Former Bellator MMA "Fight Master" tournament winner and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Middleweight champion Joe Riggs is still trying to find his footing in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). But, with a crippling cut to 170 pounds out of the picture because of the ban on IV hydration, "Diesel" is back to his old self.
"At 185, besides my last fight ... because I had a hard time cutting weight while I was sick, this time I'm around 196. So the weight cut isn't going to be a factor. I'm going to throw my hands a lot more as I have in the past," Riggs told MMAmania.com in a recent interview.
Riggs, 33, attempts to build upon the success he had in his last foray in the Octagon, which was a disqualification victory over one-time Strikeforce veteran Ron Stallings back in Sept. 2015, when he takes on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11 contestant Chris Camozzi at UFC Fight Night 83 in Pittsburgh, Pa., later this evening (Sun., Feb. 21, 2016).
For the MMA Lab representative, he's prepared to lay it all on the line and get the finish he felt he would nab in his last outing opposite "Choir Boy."
"I was getting upset with people cause people kept saying that I just said, 'I can't see. I don't want to fight.' I said, 'I'm fine and I'm okay to fight.' I had no idea I was going to get the win because of the illegal upkick," Riggs recalled. "The referee was really close to stopping the fight and my eye was already f-cked up after taking quite a bit of damage in the first round. He was done and he told me after the fight. He got cut because he said no to a rematch with me."
Regardless of how the fight ended, it was an important bout for the veteran of 58 professional fights because it ended a two-fight losing streak. The aggression Riggs displayed against Stallings also helped secure him a contract extension with UFC.
I just Signed a contract extension with the UFC along with a good $ bunus. Thanks to Chuck. I'll be letting... https://t.co/5Vancy4UPW— JOE RIGGS (@DIESELRIGGSMMA) November 6, 2015
Money is certainly important to Riggs, as it is to several of his peers. With that being said, re-signing with UFC seems like bit of an odd move, especially when 2015 saw multiple highly touted fighters bolt from ZUFFA for the greener pastures of the Scott Coker-led Bellator promotion.
"When I was in Bellator, and I won Fight Master, I was like, 'I gotta get back to the UFC.' Then when Scott Coker took over, he kind of reinvented it and turned it back to what Strikeforce was," Riggs said. "I love the UFC and my job, but you can't just be one show in town."
Riggs began his Octagon career as a 21-year-old back in Aug. 2004 at the UFC 49 pay-per-view (PPV) when he tapped Joe Doerksen via his renowned ground-and-pound. After putting together an impressive professional mixed martial arts (MMA) resume, which includes notable scraps with the likes of Nick Diaz, the Arizona-based combatant says he is prepared to end his career with ZUFFA.
"The UFC is my last run. When I'm done in the UFC, I'm done," Riggs emphasized.
However, he's not ready to hang up the four-ounce gloves just yet. Riggs still has plenty of gas in the tank and feels that he will have the upperhand when battling Colorado's Chris Camozzi.
The 29-year-old is in his third run with UFC and coming off of a unanimous-decision win over Tom Watson last August. Camozzi is 3-1 in his last four appearances and actually spent time training with a close friend of Riggs.
"He was recently just training down with somebody I know and they're professional and didn't tell me anything he's going to do. They just said that I do everything better than he does," Riggs explained.
The powerful wrestler has toned down sparring over his last few fights and has his weight on point for what will be his 12th Octagon jaunt. It also helps that's he's not sick.
As of the time we spoke, which was the second week of February, Riggs told me that he was 20 pounds lighter now, compared to the same point in time when he was readying himself for Stallings. With a great training camp in his back pocket, there's no telling what the future holds for Riggs as he gets set to add to his MMA legacy with a win over Camozzi.
"I just want people to remember me as someone who never turned a fight down, never in my life," Riggs said, adding. "Anything can happen. I'm 33, I don't feel beaten up. I do have some miles left in me."