MMA’s second biggest proponent of medical marijuana, Matt Riddle, is back.
After retiring three weeks ago, Riddle has had a change of heart and is scheduled to be fighting at Bellator 109, this November 22 in Pennsylvania.
Riddle was famously ejected from the UFC’s welterweight roster after two failed drug tests, which had him testing positive for marijuana. Sadly for Riddle, he was on a four fight winning streak, inclusive of one submission-of-the-night bonus and building momentum within the 170-pound division, when his second positive test in three fights and two overturned wins, caused the UFC to cut the fighter.
Riddle subsequently signed with Bellator MMA and was set to fight in their fall 2013 tournament, but a cracked rib forced him to scratch from the tournament.
Feeling frustrated with his career and citing the financial stress of having not been paid since November of 2012, Riddle elected to retire from MMA and looked to seek employment outside the world of professional mixed martial arts.
Ironically, the day before Riddle announced his retirement (September 10th), the Nevada State Athletic Commission raised the levels of allowable marijuana metabolites that a fighter can have in their system, and given the new standards, Riddle would probably pass any drug test he may now get, and would most likely have not failed the ones he did / had.
As it stands now, Bellator has reached out to the talented welterweight and given him a fight with an, as of yet to be named fighter, and promised Riddle regardless of a fight or no fight, he will be paid. Beyond that, Bellator has promised him a slot in their next (2014) tournament.
In speaking with MMAFighting.com, Riddle commented on the turn of events and spoke highly of Bellator’s efforts to put together a deal for him that would allow him to provide for his family and keep fighting. As Matt put it:
"I never really wanted to retire. I was just frustrated and things came to a head, but that's all water under the bridge, now. They took care of me. They understood that I have a family to feed and that I have bills to pay. It matters to me that instead of just shoving me aside, they went out of their way to make things work and get me a fight this year.
I've signed a bout agreement that's going to pay me for the fight whether or not they actually find me an opponent. I assume Bellator would rather find someone for me to fight than just pay me to sit home, so we'll wait and see who they come up with and then we'll start to train from there.
I'm ready to get back in the cage and keep my win streak going.
I'm telling you man, it all worked out. I'm from Allentown and I get to fight in Bethlehem. As far as I'm concerned, it's like the past three weeks didn't happen. I still have the same goals I've always had. I'd like to fight until I'm 31 or 32, make some money, and hopefully get a chance to win a championship belt while I'm at it."
For most fans, I’m sure they’ll great his un-retirement as good news; Bellator fans most certainly will. Riddle is a talented fighter and one that shows up to fight and gives it his all. Had marijuana not been an issue, Matt could easily be a top-ten ranked UFC welterweight and striving for a title shot. However and sadly, the arcane regulations of government oversight stripped him of all that and branded him a cheat; a truly pathetic turn of events.
However, as Matt said, it’s all water under the bridge, now and what he needs to do is move forward, continue his winning streak and become Bellator’s welterweight champion; all things he could accomplish.
As a fan, I wish him all the best.