Matthew Riddle out of short retirement, fights at Bellator 109 in November
by Matt Erickson on Oct 03, 2013 at 3:00 pm ET
When it comes to MMA, some retirements last longer than others.
Randy Couture's lasted a little more than two years.
Matthew Riddle's was about three weeks.
It wasn't even a month ago that Riddle announced on Twitter that he was calling it a career, even before he could have his first fight for Bellator MMA. The former UFC fighter then told MMAjunkie.com he was "so fed up with the people that run this sport" that he didn't want anything to do with it.
But Riddle has changed his tune. Telling MMAjunkie.com exclusively that his abrupt exit form the sport was more the result of "a hissy fit" than anything else, Riddle is back and he'll make his Bellator debut on Nov. 22 at Bellator 109, in his home state of Pennsylvania, no less.
"It's water under the bridge, and we're ready to move forward to greener pastures," Riddle told MMAjunkie.com on Thursday. "They just want me to fight forward and do work for them, and they're willing to help me in any way that they can. And you can't ask for much more from a company. At the end of the day, they treated me right and I'm happy."
Riddle initially announced his retirement on Sept. 10. He cracked a rib and had to pull out of his planned Season 9 welterweight tournament fight against Luis Melo, and when Bellator couldn't guarantee him another fight later in the season when he was healthy, well, Riddle took his ball and went home. Not having a fight meant not having money coming in, and with a wife and three kids to support, that wasn't going to work for him, he said.
"Honestly, I was pissed," he said. "So I was like, 'If I can't fight, I'm going to retire.' I basically threw a hissy fit and retired. (But Bellator) called me up and said, 'Bro, we didn't realize your situation.' They gave me an advance, they gave me money and the fight in the November, and they've already got me scheduled for the tournament in January or February.
"So they're doing everything in their power to help me out. Unfortunately, I kind of hopped off the handle right off the bat. I had a cracked rib, I hadn't fought in six months, and I'm broke. But they took care of me and hooked me up and I couldn't be happier."
It's been an interesting stretch for Riddle, to say the least. The veteran of Season 7 of "The Ultimate Fighter" started his career 5-1 in the UFC before back-to-back losses to Sean Pierson and Lance Benoist.
But then he went on a solid four-fight run – a run that only gets credit for two wins thanks to a pair of positive tests for marijuana metabolites.
He tapped out Chris Clements at UFC 149 for a $65,000 "Submission of the Night" win in July 2012, but that was flipped to a no-contest after his first positive test. And in February, he beat Che Mills in a split decision in London. But once again, he tested positive. That time, it cost him more than a win. It cost him his job with the UFC.
Riddle is a licensed medical marijuana user in Nevada, where he currently lives. After his first suspension for pot, Riddle said he planned to continue to use, but would stop soon enough before fights to avoid a positive test. Against Mills, that apparently wasn't the case when he tested positive a second time.
Riddle caught on quickly outside the UFC, signing a deal with Legacy Fighting Championship. But before he could take a fight with the Texas-based promotion, Bellator purchased his contract.
He was expected to fight in the current welterweight tournament, but the cracked rib forced him out of his fight against Melo at Bellator 100 this past month, and when Bellator wouldn't get him a fight before the end of the calendar year, according to Riddle, he retired so he could make money to pay the bills.
Riddle said "odd jobs" have been bringing some money in since his announcement, and he was prepared to keep earning that way if he stayed retired. But that's not what he wanted.
"I know how to do stuff, so I was doing handyman stuff and making money that way," he said. "But I'd rather make money in the cage. I really didn't want to retire. I'm in my prime – I'm 27."
While Bellator doesn't have an opponent yet for Riddle for the Nov. 22 show, Riddle said he's signed the bout agreement to be on the card. And as a bonus, the fight takes place at Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem in Riddle's home state of Pennsylvania. He's fought in his home state just once, a decision win over Dan Cramer at UFC 101 in August 2009, so the fight will serve as a welcomed homecoming for him.
After that fight, he'll get to work for what he said will be a planned spot in the Season 10 welterweight tournament, looking to stay the kind of busy he was hoping for with Bellator to begin with.
"I think they're going to keep me a lot more active in the future," Riddle said.