UFC Considers Using Psychedelic Therapy to Aid Their Fighters

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, news broke that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was looking into psychedelic therapy to aid their fighters. Indeed, according to ESPN, the UFC has “been in contact with Johns Hopkins University about its psychedelics studies with an eye toward seeing if the drugs can be helpful for fighters dealing with brain issues.”

UFC senior vice president of health and performance Jeff Novitzky and John Hopkins have been in contact for the past few weeks. Those in the psychedelic community are well aware of John Hopkins’ many contributions to psychedelic science, with their most prized study pertaining to psilocybin as a treatment for major depression disorder.

Psychedelics & UFC

Readers will recall that Microdose is no stranger to the notion of psychedelics playing a postive role in sports. This topic was heavily discussed by an expert panel in November during our Psychedelics & Sports event. However, the UFC’s interest in psychedelic therapy is not just in mental health application, but inĀ brain health.

In the aforementioned ESPN article, Novitzky cited treatment to traumatic brain injury, addiction, and general mental health problems to have caught their eye. This is not the first time the world of UFC and psychedelics have crossed paths, either. Former UFC Flyweight contender Ian McCall has participated in a psilocybin-focused study at John Hopkins.

“When you go into a cage, when you go into a ring and you fight and even football, you’re giving and receiving [post-traumatic stress syndrome] and no one wants to talk about it, but that’s what’s happening,” McCall said. “Your trauma is stored in your tissue, so you’re actually giving and receiving PTSD while you’re in there and that’s a big reason why I work in psychedelics, to try and fix those exact things. We need to take care of these athletes a little better, just like we need to do with vets.”

UFC & Psychedelics

The UFC is Quite Serious About Their Interest in Psychedelic Therapy

Athletes from all sorts of sports have expressed interest in psychedelics and cannabis throughout the last couple years. Indeed, the two drugs have been mentioned as stress-relievers, therapeutic catalysts, and sometimes pain management alternatives. But the UFC’s level of interest is unprecedented. “We want to be on board and we want to be first,” Novitzky said.

This is perhaps unsurprising to hardcore UFC fans, given that, out all of the MMA sports organizations, the UFC invests the most into brain and mental health research. For example, the UFC has been a key funder of a Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health study regarding professional athlete brain health, contributing another $1 million just last week. They contributed millions to such causes over time.

Given the recent psilocybin-therapy legalization in Oregon, it seems that the UFC is first to respond with incredible collaborative interest as an entire sports organization. This is indubitably history in the making. Microdose looks forward to covering this story as it evolves.

Microdose Psychedelic Insights

Microdose Psychedelic Insights

Your Guide to the Business of Psychedelics. Our mission is to shift the world's perception of psychedelic medicine.