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UFC Vegas 19’s Curtis Blaydes happy USADA no longer penalizing marijuana: ‘It’s about time’

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Curtis Blaydes is happy to no longer have to worry about United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing for marijuana.

Blaydes, who meets Derrick Lewis later tonight (Sat., Feb. 20, 2021) at UFC Vegas 19 live on ESPN+ from Las Vegas, is no stranger to getting punished for marijuana use. The heavyweight contender tested positive back in 2017 and saw his TKO win over Adam Milstead turned into a no contest. That punishment was handed down by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), not USADA, but that is one win Blaydes will never get back.

While USADA is no longer testing fighters for marijuana the state commissions, like TDLR, can still dish out their own punishments should a fighter fail a test. It’s a small victory for those who use marijuana outside of competition, but there’s still room for improvement.

“I thought it’s about time,” said Blaydes about USADA’s rule change during a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “It’s not a big deal and it hasn’t ever been a big deal. It’s just an archaic group of people at the top who didn’t understand that weed isn’t the issue.

“Weed isn’t going to help you beat someone. If anything, it’s going to hurt you but it’s not going to help you.”

Blaydes, 30, is one of the most promising fighters on the UFC’s roster today. He already holds the heavyweight record for most takedowns (59) and total minutes of top control (59) and may only be one more win away from earning his first UFC title shot. He’s going to be around for a very long time, which is why an athlete of his caliber must be smart about what he puts into his body. This includes Blaydes’ choice to use marijuana over other alternative drugs.

“Wouldn’t you rather have your athletes doing a natural way to help with the aches and bruises besides all the pills?” Blaydes said. “Pills are worse for your body, they’re worse for the athletes. You get a better product as a league or organization when you don’t focus your energy on something that isn’t a problem.

“All the major sports leagues around the world, the NHL, the NBA, the MLB, the NFL, removed it from their banned substances list because they realized they’d rather have their athletes smoking or using the creams or the drops and all that as opposed to getting hooked on opioids.”

With USADA on board with marijuana use among UFC fighters the next step is to have the state commissions fall in line as well. It’s going to be an uphill battle for that to happen, but it’s something that could very well come with time.

“It doesn’t help you perform,” Blaydes said. “I thought they were supposed to look for performance enhancing drugs? This is not a performance enhancing drug. Just off the definition of your job, why are you worried about marijuana?

“[The new anti-doping policy] means change is on the horizon. I don’t know how long it’s going to take but that was the first brick.” will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 19 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

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