With a division already boasting the likes of Ben Askren, Paul Daley, Douglas Lima, Ben Saunders, Andrey Koreshkov and Karl Amoussou, Matt Riddle knows he will be swimming in “Deep Waters” when he enters the Bellator Welterweight Tournament this Fall as Bellator has signed a long-term promotional agreement with the controversial Pennsylvania native.
Riddle joins Bellator coming off four straight victories with the UFC, but was recently released as he failed his post-fight drug test after his victory over Che Mills. Known for his strong wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu background along with a stifling takedown defense, Riddle is ready to challenge himself against the best in the world inside the Bellator cage.
“I had so many options after I left the UFC, but knowing that I was able to compete in a tournament against guys like Paul Daley, Ben Saunders, and Douglas Lima, signing with Bellator was an easy decision,” Riddle said. “This division is just so stacked, and being able to fight in a tournament makes it even better. Bellator is doing a lot of great things right now, and I want to be a part of it.”
Bellator CEO & Chairman Bjorn Rebney understands some of the risks involved with signing Riddle, but after discussions with Riddle, Rebney is confident the 27 year old welterweight is in the right place to impact the welterweight division.
“Matt’s got all the tools to be a force in our welterweight division,” Rebney said. “When I saw Matt get released from the UFC coming off 4 straight wins including his dominant win over Mills in February, we took notice. We both realize that Matt will have a target on his back for his past indiscretions. But having discussed it with him, I’m comfortable that he’s in the right place to enter the Bellator cage this fall in what will be the most loaded Bellator Welterweight Tournament in the promotions history.”
While Riddle isn’t looking too far ahead of himself, it’s clear there are a number of goals he’d like to accomplish on his way to a title shot.
“No questions asked, I want to win the next Bellator Welterweight Tournament, get my shot at the title and take my beautiful wife to the MTV Awards and meet Snoop Dogg,” Riddle remarked. “I’ve seen all the pictures of Bellator guys walking red carpets and it’s something I want to earn and be able to do. What could be better than that?”
Riddle’s journey to a Bellator title shot and future red carpet appearances will begin this fall live on Spike.
With less than a week until his co-main event clash with Junior dos Santos at UFC 160, heavyweight slugger Mark Hunt dodged a bullet. Hunt has been stuck in Australia for the past week unable to travel to the United States due to a visa issue stemming from a prior arrest. With it appearing less and less likely that Hunt would make the event in time, UFC officials began to arrange for Roy Nelson to fill in against dos Santos had the situation not improved at the 11th hour. On Sunday, however, Hunt tweeted that he had in fact received his visa. The resurging Hunt (9-7) is currently riding a four-fight win streak inside the Octagon — three by way of knockout. After besting the likes of Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo, the 39-year-old went on to viciously stop Stefan Struve on FUEL TV last March. Dos Santos (15-2), meanwhile, will look to rebound from the second loss of his career after being dominated by Cain Velasquez en route to dropping his UFC heavyweight title. The defeat snapped a ten-fight win streak for "Cigano", which includes victories over Fabricio Werdum, Shane Carwin, Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez. UFC 160 takes place on May 25 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena and airs live on pay-per-view, with the preliminary card broadcasting on FX and streaming on Facebook. In the main event, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will defend his crown in a rematch against Antonio Silva, while Hunt and dos Santos lock horns in the co-headliner.
UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold Saturday, May 18 Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil Main Card (FX) Vitor Belfort def. Luke Rockhold via KO (spinning heel kick and punches) at 2:32 of round 1 Ronaldo Souza def. Chris Camozzi via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:37 of round 1 Rafael dos Anjos def. Evan Dunham via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Rafael Natal def. Joao Zeferino via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) Preliminary Card (FUEL TV) Nik Lentz def. Hacran Dias via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) Francisco Trinaldo def. Mike Rio via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:08 of round 1 Gleison Tibau def. John Cholish via submission (guillotine choke) at 2:34 of round 2 Paulo Thiago def. Michel Prazeres via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Yuri Alcantara def. Iliarde Santos via TKO (punches) at 2:31 of round 1 Fabio Maldonado def. Roger Hollett via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-27) Preliminary Card (Facebook) John Lineker def. Azamat Gashimov via TKO (punches) at 1:07 of round 2 Jussier Formiga def. Chris Cariaso via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Lucas Martins def. Jeremy Larsen via KO (punch) at 0:13 of round 3 Follow CageReligion.com on Twitter: @CageReligionRead more
It appears that the UFC's bantamweight division could be on its way to having an interim, interim champion.
According to a report by Brazilian outlet Tatame on Saturday, UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao has been forced to pull out of next month's UFC 161 due to a foot injury. Barao was slated to defend his title against Eddie Wineland in the main event of next month's event. UFC 161 takes place on June 15 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada's MTS Centre, and airs live on pay-per-view. Additional bouts for the summer event include Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson. UFC officials have yet to comment on Barao's injury. Barao (30-1, 1 NC) is currently riding an unparalleled 30-fight unbeaten streak, including a 4-0 record under the UFC banner thus far. With UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz on the sidelines for an extended period due to a series of injuries, Barao captured the interim 135-pound title last July by outpointing Urijah Faber. In his first title defense, the 26-year-old submitted Michael McDonald on FUEL TV last February. Wineland (20-8-1), meanwhile, is riding back-to-back victories over fellow world-ranked talent. The WEC vet scored a vicious knockout over Scott Jorgensen last June, before outpointing Brad Pickett at December's UFC 155.
Matt Riddle is gone from Legacy FC before ever stepping foot in the promotion's cage. During Friday's episode of "Inside MMA" on AXS TV, it was reported that Bellator MMA has bought Riddle's (7-3, 2 NC) contract from Legacy FC. Legacy FC officials later confirmed the news to MMAJunkie.com on Saturday. Riddle was released from the UFC earlier this year after testing positive for marijuana for the second time in six months. In his first offense, the 27-year-old submitted Chris Clements with an arm-triangle choke, which was later overturned to a no-contest ruling. In his most recent bout, a split decision over Che Mills was also ruled a no-contest after failing his post-fight drug screen. An alum of The Ultimate Fighter 7, Riddle has fought all 12 of his professional bouts under the UFC banner, having signed with the promotion in 2008. Among his seven victories include wins over DaMarques Johnson and John Maguire. No time frame has been announced for Riddle's Bellator debut as the promotion has not yet publicly commented on the matter. Follow CageReligion.com on Twitter: @CageReligionRead more
An ill-advised tweet from UFC lightweight Nate Diaz has proven to be a costly one. The fighter found himself in hot water this week after taking to Twitter to defend Pat Healy, who tested positive for marijuana following his submission victory over Jim Miller last month. As a result of the failed drug test, the UFC withheld Healy's $130,000 post-fight bonus money — $65,000 of which it awarded to Bryan Caraway for winning "Submission of the Night" honors. "I feel bad for Pat Healy that they took an innocent man's money and I think the guy who took the money is the biggest fag in the world," Diaz tweeted. The tweet in question has since been removed. UFC officials released a statement on Friday and later detailed Diaz's punishment. "The language used in his tweet was regrettable, offensive and inconsistent with the values and culture of the organization, and is not tolerated," the statement read.
As a result of the offensive tweet, Diaz has received a 90-day suspension from the UFC and has been fined $20,000. UFC officials noted that the fine will be donated to charity.
Diaz is currently riding back-to-back losses inside the Octagon. In his first UFC title bid, the 28-year-old come up short on points to reigning lightweight champion Ben Henderson in December. In his most recent outing, Diaz was stopped due to strikes by Josh Thomson on FOX last month.
Former UFC lightweight Paul Kelly was found guilty in England this week on charges of trafficking heroin.
According to a report by The Liverpool Echo, Kelly was convicted Friday afternoon after a four-day trial in his native Liverpool, England. While a charge of such magnitude generally carries a lengthy prison sentence with it, no exact time frame was noted as of this writing.
During the brief trial, prosecutors unanimously convinced a jury pool that Kelly was a major drug trafficker, and that the fighter was considered "the boss" amongst a group of fellow dealers. The nine-time UFC vet made his first Octagon appearance at 2008's UFC 80, outpointing fellow countryman Paul Taylor in a "Fight of the Night" performance. During his three years with the UFC, Kelly posted a record of 5-4 before being released after a submission defeat to Donald Cerrone in 2011. The 28-year-old recently got back on the winning track on the regional circuit, scoring a pair of second-round stoppage wins since moving up to welterweight late last year.
Matt Manzella is the managing editor for CageReligion.com and host of Cage Religion Radio. Matt has been working in the television broadcasting industry for over seven years and is also a play-by-play commentator and judge for the Impact Fight League and Warrior Xtreme Cagefighting.
Phil Lanni is the co-host of Cage Religion Radio. Phil wrestled three years in the NCWA at Grand Valley State University -- a team that won nationals all three years. As an individual, Phil is a three-time national qualifier and was ranked seventh in the nation at 184-pounds to earn All-American status. Phil also serves as a color commentator and judge for the Impact Fight League.