Your favorite alcoholic beverage goes hand in hand with your favorite sporting events. For many, tailgating out in the parking lot in the lead-up to the football game is just as fun as the game itself – if you can even remember the game. And if you’re watching at home, it seems every second commercial is advertising the latest Budweiser product or Coors Light.
Now, with more jurisdictions legalizing cannabis across the United States and all of Canada, do we see a similar connection between marijuana and sports? More importantly, which sports fans are more likely to spark up to watch the sporting event?
UFCannabis: UFC/MMA Has HIGHest Marijuana Use
As you can see from the graphic above from Statista, it is a tight race for which sport has the highest percentage of marijuana users but ultimately it is the UFC that blazes the trail over esports.
This may not come as much of a surprise to some, with a few of the sport’s biggest stars being well-known cannabis users – notably the Diaz brothers, Nate and Nick. But if you’re not an older UFC fan who watched Nate and Nick in their heyday, newer prospects such as “Suga” Sean O’Malley and Jamahal “Sweet Dreams” Hill are also fond of the weed. Even Jon Jones, arguably the sport’s GOAT, spoke openly on the Joe Rogan Experience about smoking pot.
UFC’s Stance on Grass
For quite some time, marijuana was a banned substance within the sport of MMA, which many scoffed at since the only performance enhancement the plant would aid would be in a Dorito-eating challenge.
Yet for years fighters were suspended for having cannabinoids in their system. The UFC then pulled back on the strictness of the testing and a fighter could use marijuana up until about fight week, though fighters like Nick Diaz still had trouble staying away from the bong and got suspended.
In early 2021, the UFC decided it would no longer suspend fighters for smoking pot, but they cannot fight while under the influence of marijuana. Some athletic commissions still have some penalties, such as the California commission, which will fine the fighters $100 – or about half an ounce.
So can I get my dub back https://t.co/mLeojiiw9a— Jamahal “Sweet Dreams” Hill (@JamahalH) January 14, 2021
Why Does UFC/MMA Have the Largest Percentage of Cannabis Smokers?
I think there are a few aspects at play in considering why fans enjoy smoking weed while watching fights. The first is simply the demographic, which falls in line with that of esports as well.
UFC/MMA in the 1990s was considered a barbaric sport and was banned in many states – of course, telling young men that you can’t watch this fighting because it’s barbaric is only going to make them want to watch it more. Well, it seems the younger folks are more likely to smoke weed and I would say a larger percentage of UFC fans would be in the younger demographic compared, for instance, to MLB, which is found lower on the list.
Additionally, the fights are typically watched with a group of people in a party-like atmosphere. It is a weekly event to see the likes of Conor McGregor, Francis Ngannou, Amanda Nunes and Max Holloway. People will gather to watch these fight cards and thus are more likely to partake in drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis.
Lastly, there is a creative aspect to MMA within the gyms, learning different submissions and how your body works in space. So as to not paint all MMA fans as just sitting at home getting high, there are plenty of fighters who take in the fights and in doing so may roll a joint and visualize themselves inside the game.