Niko Price won’t be taking advantage of Nevada’s new rules on marijuana anytime soon.
The UFC welterweight was hit with a six-month suspension and $8,500 fine by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) this past September after testing positive for the cannabinoid carboxy THC in relation to his bout against Donald Cerrone. Price’s result against Cerrone, originally a majority draw, was also overturned by the NAC to a no-contest.
On Wednesday, the NAC voted unanimously to remove marijuana from its list of banned substances and adopt the same rules held by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for the UFC’s anti-doping policy — rules which only prevent athletes from competing if they are clearly impaired by the use of marijuana or alcohol. That means Price would’ve been free and clear had his positive test for marijuana come under the commission’s new purview.
Hours after the NAC’s new rule change was made official, Price was asked about his journey since the Cerrone fight at UFC 264’s media day. He told reporters that although the old rules regarding marijuana were “just silly,” his suspension ultimately caused him to make some major changes in his life — changes which render Wednesday’s NAC verdict on marijuana useless to him now.
“It doesn’t matter anymore – I completely quit,” Price said. “I’ve been sober almost since the beginning of the break, so there’s a new person here and a different animal onstage.”
Price (14-4, 2 NC) also previously tested positive for marijuana early in his UFC career when his 2017 win over Alex Morono was overturned to a no-contest by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, and he was hit with an additional $1,000 fine.
The 31-year-old welterweight is now slated to return against fellow fan-favorite Michel Pereira on July 10 at UFC 264, and he explained how the decision to give up marijuana since September’s drug-testing fallout has impacted his life in numerous positive ways.
“It opened my eyes to how much money I spent on it and how much money I had to pay the commission,” Price said. “So I’m just a better person now, more hyper — more hyper — than I have been. My cardio’s on a different level. My precision is on a different level and I’m hitting hard.”
“Literally, since the suspension, I’ve been in the gym. I haven’t stopped. I re-transformed myself, I started a different weightlifting program, I started doing the UFC programs and then adding my own into it, all types of different cardio, all types of different striking, I’ve been working a lot on my kicks and my angles and just head movement, because 350 stitches on my face is getting annoying.”
Price has always been a bit of a wild man. He’s captured four performance bonuses and has only fought to a decision once over his 12-fight octagon run, and he pledged that his new sober approach to life won’t affect his entertaining approach to the cage.
“It’s still there – I’m coming in hot,” Price said. “Just like I said in the Cerrone fight, I’m not in here to get a boring fight. Man, I get bored in there myself if it’s boring. So I’m looking for angles to get you — and when I get you, I’m going to get you.
“Don’t sleep on me at all,” Price added, “because if I did that to [Cerrone] and that was the old Niko, that was the guy who smoked that whole week — my cardio wasn’t even there for that fight, my strength wasn’t even there. I got my cardio back and my strength and my mind’s clear, I’m not fogged. I’m ready to do some work.”