As previously noted, WWE NXT's Matt Riddle recently appeared on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with former world champions Edge and Christian. Among many other things, Riddle talked about how he got into MMA, what it was like working with UFC President Dana White, why he conflicted with the UFC, and his termination from the MMA juggernaut.
On getting into MMA, Riddle noted that his freshman year at East Stroudsburg University was the first year of Ultimate Fighter and that he thought MMA made sense for him because of his size and amateur background.
"Freshman year was the first year The Ultimate Fighter was on [television] with Forrest Griffin, and the original cast, and, yeah, the fight that put UFC on the map." Riddle explained, "the thing with MMA is there are weight classes. It's not just, 'oh, there's an open market' or whatever. Well, in pro wrestling, there are no weight classes and if there is, they're still pretty big. You still have to be a pretty solid dude to be in pro wrestling. But with my size and amateur skills, 'do you know what? I think I might be able to go this route in MMA.'"
Riddle began his MMA training as a friend asked Riddle to help him train for a grappling competition.
"My college wrestling coach resigned, and I lost my scholarship, and my girlfriend just broke up with me," Riddle recalled. "And I was working at a video store at the time, when video stores still existed, yeah, oh yeah, and my friend calls me up, he goes, 'hey, like, would you like to start doing jiu-jitsu or anything? I've got a competition in a couple of weeks, a little NAGA [Battle] At The Beach and I wanted to see if you wanted to come and start training with me and do all that.' And I was like, 'do you know what? What else am I going to do?'"
In regards to Riddle's controversial departure from UFC, 'The King Of Bros' divulged that working for White was "pleasant" till White ripped him on TV. Riddle indicated that UFC officials were upset by Riddle being vocal about the promotion allowing fighters to use performance enhancing drugs, but not medical cannabis.
"Up until him ripping me apart on FOX Sports and being really mean, it was pleasant [working with White]," Riddle explained. "Like, it seemed like a really nice work relationship. Everybody in the office seemed to like me. I think before my firing they were upset because, at the time when I was in UFC, they would allow fighters to use a lot of prescribed drugs as long as they had a doctor's note. I was prescribed medical marijuana and they didn't agree with it because it wasn't federally legal. But they were letting a lot of fighters use prescribed testosterone and prescribed other things. And I was like, 'well, you're letting fighters use performance enhancing drugs and I don't think that's appropriate.' And they didn't want me talking about that. So that was probably, like, the only back and forth that we had that was negative. Other than that, me and Dana had a great relationship."
Riddle described his UFC departure as "brutal," yet not financially devastating.
"Well, of course, I'll be honest, I just had my third kid [at the time of UFC termination]. I just had Zach, my son. So I just had my third kid right before that fight, so it was pretty brutal. But, at the same time, I was already riding a four-win streak. I had multiple submission bonuses and stuff like that. So I was doing fine in the sense for money at the time. But yeah I was just like, 'I want to get signed somewhere. I want to get fights to be able to keep this ride going because right now I'm top 10 in the world and if I get another win, I can get ranked even higher and keep going and going.'"
According to Riddle, he knew he could get into pro wrestling following his fallout with the UFC, but his immediate goal was to win a world title in MMA.
"Once I got fired from the UFC, [pro wrestling] was [an option], but, at the same time, I hadn't held a world title yet and I was already ranked top 10 in the UFC, which means I could probably hold a world title in basically any other company." Riddle added, "I just wanted to win a title either in Bellator or Titan FC."
Check out the podcast here or listen in the audio player below. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness