Matt Riddle wants marijuana use rules changes in MMA; UFC’s Marc Ratner likes rehab system

Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Riddle doesn't hold any of his opinions back when he talks about marijuana. The welterweight fighter is a medical marijuana patient in the state of Nevada; however, he wants to see the rules regarding the use of the drug in MMA to be changed, while UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner, prefers rehabilitation.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Matt Riddle is still bummed out over his July win against Chris Clements at UFC 149 being overturned to a "No Contest" after a positive post-fight drug test for marijuana.

Riddle, who describes himself as a "heavy user" of the drug, is a licensed medical marijuana patient in the state of Nevada. However, he failed to disclose his usage of the drug to the Calgary Combative Sports Commission and his third-round submission of Clements was subsequently struck from his record.

The win may officially be no more, but in Riddle's mind, he still considers it a victory.

"If you ask me I'm 8-3. I'm not 7-3-1, I'm 8-3," the welterweight fighter told MMAmania.com. "And if you watch the tape I don't think you'd argue with that. You know I dropped him with a liver kick, I hit him with a standing arm-triangle and you know, it was a very dominant performance.

"I think it's really unfortunate they took a hard-earned win from me that I took on a week's notice and I did everything in my power to pass that drug test, I've never failed a drug test in my life until that day and that was never my intention. So it does suck, but at the same time I'll never forget that win. It was a great experience, a great feeling and I made $100,000 in one night, so you tell me who's the winner if that's a no contest."

Riddle blames marijuana being found in his system on the fact he took the bout with Clements on extremely short notice. For his UFC 154 bout against John Maguire last weekend (Nov. 17, 2012), a bout that he also took on short notice, Riddle says the UFC made him take additional testing and there should be no issues in the fallout of the event.

While the 26-year-old has no problems obliging to any drug tests required of him, he would ultimately like the negative outlook on marijuana to be phased out of the sport.

"The UFC had me take a test before I got here, last Friday and Monday and I passed both those tests," Riddle explained following his win over Maguire at the Bell Centre in Montreal. "They were not taking a chance and they said if I failed that test they probably would have pulled me from the card.

"So I passed that test and that's what it is and you know, in the future I mean I know all these guys are taking testosterone and all that and they have medical releases, and I'm hoping maybe I can talk to a commission or talk to somebody and maybe get the rules changed."

"I won't test positive ever again I can assure you."

By no means is Riddle suggesting marijuana should be completely legalized for MMA. But, with the world's opinion on the drug softening with each passing day, "Deep Waters" would like to see alternate options such as a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) become available so he has no hiccups with drug tests down the road.

"I'm not asking to, you know, rip a tube before I get in the Octagon," said Riddle. "It's like I quit, I quit pretty far out. [I quit] like two weeks [out from a fight]. But, I'm like a heavy user, you know, to be honest and it sticks around in my system because I'm skin and bone, you know, but it still sticks in my system. So, you know, that's what it is and until they change the rules or amend it, I'll abide by whatever they tell me to do."

Since the failed drug test in July, Riddle's marijuana use has become a lot more public. The fighter has tweeted a picture of his medical marijuana card and taken pictures of himself wearing a toque with a marijuana leaf on it.

Riddle is far from being the type of person who is trying to hide his usage, and why would he? The Pennsylvania native claims he only uses marijuana for medical purposes.

"[Marijuana] makes me honestly, for a guy like me I've explained it to other people, I'm very high strung," he said. "You can ask anybody who hangs out with me, when I'm not on my medicine -- not that I'm hard to be around, but I'm very intense. You say something stupid I'll (expletive) let you know, I go off. You know, I'm very, it's almost like a New York minute, I'm very fast, I'm right to the point, I'm in your face. Like right now, ba-da-ba-ba, I'm talking very fast. I like to slow it down, I like to be normal, I like to be like a normal person and right now it's like I'm on edge."

"If I didn't just get out of the cage I'd want to beat the (expletive) out of somebody just for no reason. And that's just how I'm wired, and I don't like it. I like being the nice guy. So when I use, I'm a very nice guy and everybody around me loves me more. I'm just a much more pleasant person to be around."

Ultimately, Riddle believes is capable of keeping his marijuana use in check going forward. If the rules stay the same, he will follow them to the best of his ability.

However, what bugs Riddle the most is how marijuana gets a bad rap from regulators of the sport, while other drugs don't seem to draw the same negative correlation.

"The unfortunate part is, you know, in this world, you know, people are okay if you take Xanax, testosterone and all these other drugs as long as a doctor prescribes them. But, if you're prescribed medical marijuana, you know, because of your issues, it's not acceptable and they really frown upon it.

"I hope, you know, two states already legalized it in America and I just hope they really turn it around."

As far as the UFC's perspective on marijuana, unless a fighter tests positive for the drug at an international event where the organization does its own drug testing and hands out its own punishments, they must follow the rules of the athletic commission in the state or province where the event is being held.

For UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, marijuana isn't as bad as say testosterone or anabolic steroids, but at this point competing with the drug in your system is against the rules and fighters like Riddle will be punished if they choose to break those rules.

A rehabilitation system has recently been put in place and heavyweight Dave Herman, who tested positive for marijuana metabolites after UFC 153 in October, was the first to be placed in that program, a punishment which Ratner sees as fair.

"Right now, I think in every state, it's illegal to fight with [marijuana] in your system," Ratner told MMA Junkie. "If you did it three or four months ago that's one thing, but if you're smoking within the week of the fight that's going to show. And my feeling is there can be a suspension, but my feeling is there should also be a rehab system that's been talked about."

"I'm not going to get into the pluses or minuses or positives and negatives of it, but right now it's illegal."

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