Matt Riddle would have never made it into the UFC if he hadn't stretched the truth in his application to get on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season seven.
Despite having never fought professionally before, he made his way onto the show and by the time the executives had discovered the truth, he'd already scored one of the most brutal knockouts in TUF history against Dan Simmler to earn his way into the house.
Riddle has had a relatively successful UFC career, holding a 7-3 record with one no contest and having gone unbeaten in his last three bouts.
"Deep Waters" will be battling British bomber Che Mills this Saturday (Feb. 16, 2013) in the opening bout of the UFC on FUEL TV 7 main card in London England, and he's hoping to prove himself to the UK fans who disrespected him the last time he fought across the pond.
Riddle made waves during his appearance on MMAmania's Verbal Submission podcast last week discussing his stance on TRT and marijuana (which you can read here). Here's the rest of his exclusive interview where he talks about the temptation to stand and bang, why he's the perfect foil for Che Mills and even fighters exploiting fight night insurance.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been doing a lot of short notice fights lately in the UFC. How does it feel to actually have a full training camp heading into a fight?
Matt Riddle: Well, I'm pretty ready for this one. I'd been taking fights on short notice and just staying in shape. That's basically what I did for this one. I stayed in shape and then picked it up really hard about four weeks out and I got a little sick a couple weeks ago, got the flu and that helped me drop weight actually. I'm at 177 so the weight cut won't be a problem and I feel great. I've been tearing it up at Drysdales, everywhere I go. I've been sparring, hitting mitts and I feel great. I wouldn't say this is the strongest I've ever been, but this is definitely the fastest I've ever been.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is it better to be stronger or to have that conditioning and speed in a fight?
Matt Riddle: I've never, since dropping to welterweight, I've never fought someone that was stronger than me. It's usually the speed factor that gets me. I'm really strong, just not as quick as some of the welterweights. That's why I stopped lifting weights. I haven't lifted weights for about a year and a half. I just do pull-ups and push-ups and things like that. Ever since I did that, that's when I started winning fights. I'm not getting hit as much since I stopped lifting weights because I think it was making me stiff and sluggish and also it was making my weight cut way too hard. I was getting up to about 210 before these fights and then dropping down to 170 and it was really hard on my body. Now I do a lot of cardio and stuff like that and it's perfect. I feel great.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After your last fight, you called out Dan Hardy. You didn't get that fight, but you did end up getting a UK guy in Che Mills. While it's not Hardy, do you think Mills is still enough of a name for you to avenge that "Butter-toothed Brit" that spit in your mouth after your last appearance in Manchester?
Matt Riddle: It wouldn't have mattered that I fought an English guy in England. What matters is going back to England and redoing that thing over again. In 2009 I fought in Manchester, got spat on, got booed and I just wasn't expecting the way they treat you there. Here, if you don't do well, you can expect some boos but I've never been spit on and called the names they were calling me before. The things they did to me, I would only do to somebody I hated. It was outrageous and I let them know that. I don't have anything against English fighters. I've got something against English fans. I think the're ignorant, they're disrespectful and I would be ashamed if I ever acted that way ever in my life. Honestly, the Dan Hardy thing is just a great match-up for me. He's got a big name, the red mohawk working for him and I wouldn't mind beating the crap out of him.
I've trained at the same gym as him a couple times and I've seen people run through him that I would run over so it's just a great match-up for me. Che Mills, I respect him. He's hard-hitting, he's fast, he's talented, he's athletic, but we all know that he's got a big gap in his game and I'm gonna expose it. That's what he's done. If you look at his record, he's got five losses. Three submission, one TKO and one decision and they're all by guys that take him down and beat him up. We'll see.
Matt Riddle: Yeah, that's definitely what I'm going to do. Rory MacDonald is a more athletic, heavy hitter. While I hit hard, I'm more technical on the ground. I think once I get there I'm gonna open him up with shots, pass his guard and then probably sub him.
Matt Riddle: Not really. Duane Ludwig is a striking legend and while Che Mills is a good striker, he's not a legend. Not saying they don't compare because he landed some good leg kicks at the beginning of the round but even if the fight would have went the distance, he would have needed the level changes. Even though he got the takedowns, if you noticed, he didn't do anything with it. He got stood back up both times until Duane tore his ACL which was tore before the fight. I don't care what he says or anybody else says, there's no way you get taken down in a minute and a half and it's a torn ACL. That was already torn going in if it was that quick.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So you think he was exploiting the fight night insurance?
Matt Riddle: I would imagine so, yes. He kept it under wraps. Even though we have insurance now, if we get hurt while we fight, we don't have to pay anything. If we get hurt training, the co-pay is like $1500 and it doesn't cover everything. It gets expensive.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Mills had a pretty interesting interview about you last week and something I picked up on was he couldn't really explain what you were doing right in the Octagon. He said you've got a lot of wins so you're obviously doing "something right" but he didn't know what it is. I was wondering if you could respond by explaining what it is that you have done right in your UFC career to get seven victories in the Octagon?
Matt Riddle: A lot of these guys, I feel like they make it to the UFC and they're happy with that. I started my career in the UFC and I've just been wanting to work my way up. A lot of these guys call out fighters and put themselves in bad situations and that's why a lot of these guys don't last, go 0-2 or 1-2 or however the game goes. Che Mills is 2-1 in the UFC and I'll probably beat him so he'll be 2-2 and if they put him against anybody with a legit ground game, he'll be 2-3 and cut.
The bottom line is Che Mills doesn't know what I'm doing right, here's what I'm doing right. I'm well-rounded. I might not be the best striker, but I hit really hard and I've got a chin. That's dangerous. In regards to my ground skills, I'm a Division I wrestling state champion, tons of wrestling credentials and in jiu-jitsu I was ranked top 10 in the world at my belt rank within six months of starting jiu-jitsu. I've got the ground skills and I've been on the ground with world champions plenty of times. I've got several strengths while Che Mills has one strength. That's why I've been in the UFC since my debut and why I'm still here five years later and that's why Che Mills is probably on his way out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned starting your career in the UFC. How exactly did you get on The Ultimate Fighter without actually having a pro record?*
Matt Riddle: I actually lied. I did the tryouts in New Jersey and did really well in the grappling session. I went against a brown belt from American Top Team and I submitted him twice. I hopped guard and submitted him twice in the 45 seconds I was given. I'm also a state champion wrestler so they saw I had game off my back and I could take people down. When I hit mitts, I know my hands aren't pretty, but I could tell I was hurting the guy's hands that was holding the pads. They were like, "This dude hits hard as shit," so I got that going.
Then in the interview section, that's when I knew I got on the show. They loved me as soon as they started talking to me. I also lied. I said I was 1-0 as a pro when I was 1-0 as an amateur and this was before Sherdog was 100 percent legit and everything was sanctioned and all that. This was when people were still fighting on Indian reservations on the rig. They had no way of telling if I was 1-0 as an amateur or as a pro. By the time they found out, it was too late and I'd already broken Dan Simmler's jaw in three spots and they couldn't take me off at that point. That was five years ago.
Jason Probst: Is there every pressure as a grappling-based fighter to make the fight more exciting? How do you deal with that?
Matt Riddle: Always, always. That's why I went on a losing streak there for a minute because I wasn't fighting for myself, or for my record. I was fighting for the bonuses and for the crowd. Let's be honest, fighting is already exciting but there's nothing more exciting than hearing fans screaming for blood. You can amp them, you can control them almost as if they're your puppets. You can lift your arms up and get the crowd to roar when you want or nod at someone when they blast you in the face as if to say, "Come on, hit me again, you've got nothing."
It gets the crowd motivated because everyone in the crowd wishes they could do that. They wish they could take a punch from a UFC fighter and smile and give one back. They wish they could do that. If they see something they wish they could do, it amps them up.
Wrestling, it's exciting but either someone wants a big slam or something. It's upsetting to me because it takes away the sport aspect of it because I make a certain amount to show up and win. I make a lot more if I go out there and throw haymakers. I might get scarred up and break a hand, but I also might make an extra $100,000 because I made that card awesome.
Especially with a guy like me, I've got a family, a house, a car, it makes you think. But you know what? That's why the last three fights, I said, "Screw bonus hunting. The bonuses will come to me." I just fight for my record now just like John Maguire. I could have done more, gone for some flying stuff but I stuffed his shot, stayed on the outside, worked my striking and got the win. That's what I did. When I go into a fight with a gameplan, it's almost like cheating. It's too easy. It's almost like I should do something different to make it fair. When I take a guy down and maul him, I don't really get tired and I can take people down three times a round. You end up playing into other people's strengths for the crowd.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @RiddleTUF7
*Question submitted by ricky-dooby