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'Ripped' UFC and TUF veteran bails on MMA career, seeks fresh start in professional wrestling

Michael N. Todaro

The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 7 jokester turned hot-and-cold Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight veteran, Matt Riddle, is saying goodbye to the mixed martial arts (MMA) industry (again).

It's not like it was his lifelong dream or anything.

Professional wrestling, on the other hand, is right up his alley. After subscribing to the new WWE Network and reliving some of the glory days, "Deep Waters" realized it was time to finally pursue his passion and hooked up with Danny Cage at The Monster Factory in Paulsboro, New Jersey.

Riddle talks to MMA Fighting:

"I don't want to come off bad, but I have a lot of potential at this. I'm a world-class athlete and what I always wanted to do was be a pro wrestler. It was always my passion. I'm not in the UFC anymore so I'm not getting paid decent money to fight, so I wanted to do something I love. I'd rather wrestle professionally and have fun than fight for no reason at all... This has been my goal my entire life. I looked in the mirror four months ago. I was tired of cutting weight, getting sick, I got the (WWE) network for $9.99 and started reliving the Attitude Era and got that spark that I've been missing since I was 20. I knew I could make money doing that. I saw the guys I grew up watching, I'm watching the new guys and these guys aren't bigger than me, I'm a little more ripped than they are, I'm a cage fighter so I have skills, so maybe this is my shot to make it. If worst comes to worst, they say 'No.' I'm going to keep trying. I've proven people wrong in the past."

The soon-to-be 29-year-old certainly has an uphill battle.

Riddle finished his MMA career with a record of 8-3, but didn't exactly leave on the best of terms. After a public and messy blowout with UFC President Dana White, the man who obliterated Dan Simmler's jaw flirted with Bellator MMA, but was forced to retire after the promotion failed to give him a fight.

He briefly came out of retirement for Titan Fighting Championship, but that ended on a sour note, as well.

The good news is, Riddle is still paying the bills as a private trainer and will hopefully be able to transition to pro wrestling on a full-time basis. Whether or not he ever makes it to the promised land (WWE) remains to be seen, but stranger things have happened.

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