HESPERIA — Knowing the power of “strategic endorsements,” the folks at Medical Cannabis Educational Center in Hesperia have decided to put a heavyweight contender in their corner.
Rick and Arlene Curiel-Casas told the Daily Press that Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes, of Hesperia, the UFC’s No. 1 light heavyweight contender in the world, is now the delivery dispensary’s chief brand ambassador.
In February, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defended his belt by narrowly defeating Reyes during UFC 247.
The back-and-forth brawl went five full rounds and by the end of the bout, many of the nearly 17,000 fans in attendance at the Toyota Center were left wondering if Reyes had been robbed, according to Bleacher Report.
Even UFC President and podcast host Dana White said at the post-fight press conference that he scored the bout three rounds to two for Reyes.
Jones’ record is now 26-1-0 and Reyes is 12-1-0, with many UFC fans pleading for a rematch.
Rick Casas said developing a partnership with Reyes — a local standout athlete and graduate of Hesperia High School — represents everything MCEC stands for, which includes “hard work, dedication, ambition, trust, honesty, integrity and family.”
The owners of MCEC, along with MCEC’s Social Media/Marketing Specialist Christina Ganci, told the Daily Press the company’s partnership with Reyes began soon after they noticed that the fighter was a long time supporter of MCEC and its products.
“One day, I discovered that Dominick had placed a post fight order after his fight with Jon Jones,” Rick Casas said. “I sent an email to Christine and said let’s figure out how to contact him.”
The partnership began forming soon after the MCEC team sent Reyes a gift basket. Texts and conversations were exchanged, and the company connected with the fighter’s business manager A.J. Buonarigo.
During one conversation, Reyes shared his desire to go public with his medical cannabis use, Rick and Arlene Casas said.
“He’s a solid guy with a good head on his shoulders, and he understands the medicinal benefits of cannabis,” Casas said. “Dominick has always been dedicated and an advocate to maintaining a holistic and natural approach to his recovery after training.”
Rick Casas said that although there have been no confirmed tests as it relates to the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis, it has been widely known that medical cannabis has many significant advantages over traditional medication such as post exercise muscle recovery and pain relief.
“After several conversations, I discovered that Dominick’s values are genuine and true,” Arlene Curiel-Casas said. “His values line up with ours and that’s something we don’t see in a lot of fighters.”
Some of those values include Reyes’ pride in being from Hesperia, his involvement with the community and his work with nonprofits, Curiel-Casas said.
“I found out that Dominick’s work in the community is something that is not publicized,” Curiel-Casas said. “That’s when I knew right away that he was the perfect person we need as an ambassador.”
Ganci said “as a millennial” who has lived most of her life under cannabis prohibition, she is excited to see Reyes partner with MCEC.
“This is huge for us,” Ganci said. “Seeing a legitimate athlete like Dominick, who also has a bachelor’s degree in information systems, sign with a cannabis company is really a big deal and helps destigmatize the cannabis plant.”
Rick Casas said UFC seems to be embracing the use of cannabis-based products as numerous fighters, including brothers Nick and Nate Diaz, use and promote the consumption of cannabis.
The Diaz brothers have often advertised their occasional cannabis-use habits on social media and have also shared the stage with Mike Tyson, Snoop Dog and Wiz Khalifa as they show their mutual love for cannabis, according to Republic World.
Recently, the Diaz brothers began selling CBD products under the brand Game Up Nutrition.
In June, a poll of 170 mixed martial arts fighters found that nearly half of the respondents use cannabis for recreational or recovery purposes and the overwhelming majority — nearly 80% — have used CBD products, according to the Athletic, which conducted the poll.
In July 2019, Aurora Cannabis Inc. and the UFC, launched a joint clinical research program that will produce multiple studies under the terms of their recently announced partnership, Aurora reported.
The research will examine the use of hemp-derived CBD as an effective treatment for pain, inflammation, wound-healing and recovery in MMA athletes.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, or by email at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.