Joe “Diesel” Riggs, now there’s a name we haven’t heard in quite some time. When last we saw the former UFC alum in the big show, he had been KO’d by a vicious Diego Sanchez knee to the face and that was back in 2006. Since that time, he has racked up another 20+ fights and gone 14 & 6, overall. Currently on a 5 fight winning streak, his fortunes have now placed him at the doorstep of Bellator MMA fame and a possible 100K payout.
Last night on “Fight Master” the 30 year old fighter’s number was called and it was his turn to see if he could move on in the fighter-based reality TV show.
Any who have followed his career over the years knows that Diesel’s biggest problem has been a mental one. At every critical turn he has failed to garner the win he’s needed. In last night’s show, the issue was even raised. With remarkable candor Riggs stated:
“My weakness used to be my mind. It was, things would get in my mind a couple of days before the fight and manifest itself into something huge. I was addicted to painkillers for years. I didn’t care if I won or I lost, but over the last couple of years I’ve been seeing a sports psychologist who’s really, really helped me with that. I want to show the world that I’m a different fighter and I’ve still got a lot left in me.”
In what (almost) seemed like Karma testing him, Rigg’s opponent Frank “The Tank” Carrillo was a scratch (shoulder injury) and another opponent substituted, in. When told by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney what had happened and that he’d be facing Rob “Robocop” Mills, Riggs passively complained that “this is ****ing with my head, man”. However, Riggs stuck his hand out, shook Rebney’s and the match was set and with Diesel seeming to be undaunted or phased by the last minute switch.
With both fighters ready the match started and Riggs took control. Walking his opponent down, they clinched and at the 4:14 mark of the 1rst Diesel landed a “loud” knee to Mills face and the fight was truly on. With another knee Mills was dropped and the fight went to the ground. After 3+ minutes of rolling, Riggs emerged with a heel-hook victory at the 29 second(s) (remaining) mark and was declared the victor; moving on.
In selecting his coach, the options (left) were Greg Jackson and Frank Shamrock. With both coaches making note of either the path that Riggs had taken to get him there or that he has to have his mind right, Joe weighed the choices and his made selection; Jackson.
Following Diesel’s progress on Fight Master should be interesting. As Randy Couture said of Riggs’s age and experience (60 fights in 13 years), “damn…you’re still a young man. I didn’t start this (MMA) ‘till I was 34.”
With a healthy body and mind and with the experience he has, none of should be shocked if Diesel finally gets it together, wins the tournament and establishes himself (firmly) within the Bellator middleweight rankings.
I wish him all the best. I always thought he was a good fighter, but one with issues. However and by the look of it, those days could well be behind him, now. Good for Joe.
If you'd care to see the episode, it's viewable (but not embeddable) on "SPIKE.COM"