The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC®) has recently announced an upcoming partnership with Aurora Cannabis, one of Canada’s major producers of medical marijuana. The deal will focus on advancing research on the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) for treating athletes, and specifically, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters.

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This move will likely spell good news for investors interested in Aurora Cannabis; with over 300 million viewers worldwide, it really can’t get much bigger than the UFC.

Mixed martial artists fighting - punching IStock / nickp37

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t get you high, and it’s generally isolated from high-CBD strains of hemp, rather than cannabis. Studies have shown numerous medical benefits associated with CBD and the treatment of multiple conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, irritable bowel disease (IBD), and Parkinson’s disease; research has shown that CBD has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anti-inflammatory, antiemetic (anti-nausea), and antipsychotics, as well as neuroprotective properties.

MMA fighting is no joke; UFC athletes place their bodies under high stress and face constant injuries. One study found that, out of 100 fight participations, nearly 29 resulted in injuries to MMA fighters. The most common injuries encountered were facial lacerations (47.9%), hand (13.5%), nose (10.4%), and eye injury (8.3%). This is despite considerable protective gear which is typically required to fight, according to UFC guidelines.

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With the passage of farm bill last year, hemp-based CBD was officially rescheduled, bringing it under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), rather than the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), as was the case prior to the bill’s passage. The legislation was also aimed at reducing the cost of CBD production.

A pair of boxing gloves holding a marijuana plant. iStock / smileitsmccheeze

The “multi-year, multi-million dollar” partnership between the UFC and Aurora Cannabis will support ongoing research into CBD happening at the UFC Performance Institute located in Las Vegas, Nevada, including “clinical studies to focus on pain management, inflammation, injury/exercise recovery and mental well being,” according to a recent interview by MarketWatch.

According to UFC President, Dana White, “Since the day we opened the Performance Institute, our primary goal was to offer UFC athletes the best possible training, nutrition, and recovery services. This partnership with Aurora is an extension of that goal, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Aurora to find new ways to improve the health and safety of athletes who compete in UFC.”

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eye injury, male with black eye isolated on white. man after accident or fight with bruise iStock / tlnors

Said Aurora Cannabis’s CEO, Terry Booth, “This global partnership places focus squarely on the health and well-being of UFC’s talented and highly trained athletes. The Aurora-UFC research partnership creates a global platform to launch targeted educational and awareness campaigns, while creating numerous opportunities to accelerate our global CBD business.” A staunch advocate for the cannabis community, Booth was recently named one of High Time’s “100 most influential figures in the cannabis space.”

Stock in Aurora Cannabis has recently been on a decline, making the deal between the UFC and the Canadian cannabis company especially significant. Aurora Cannabis certainly stands to benefit from the wide viewing audience and broad reach of the UFC. Following the deal’s recent announcement, shares in Aurora Cannabis rose by 1.7%.