UFC 149, an eventthat started with a bang, but ended on a whimper. The undercard was spectacular and presented some highlight reel finishes, but the main card just couldn't hold up their end. The one fight on the PPV portion that delivered solid entertainment was Matt Riddle vs. Chris Clements. The two welterweights battled everywhere, and in the end, Riddle secured a fantastic finish.
Now, jump forward a couple hours to the post fight press conference. The young athlete that could easily double as a live action Shaggy for a Scooby Doo movie, once again brought entertainment to the fans, via an enthralling story about a British fan that spit in his face, and then ended his story by calling out of Dan Hardy. He single-handedly turned Dana White's frown upside down, which probably wasn't an easy thing to do following that depressing main card. In a recent interview with TapouT Radio, Matt discussed his fight, and where he feels he fits in the division overall.
*Note: Interviewer is either my co-host, Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, or myself. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.
Interviewer: What were you thinking after that big liver kick that obviously had Clements hurt, and Rosenthal let him recover?
Matthew Riddle: I knew what I did, and I was ready to finish. I kicked him and seen him double over. I've seen that before, so I was like, 'I got him.' I was going to throw a flying knee, but then he broke us up. That's why I yelled at him. The thing is, he was just doing his job. It must have been a bad angle for him. It was probably the way he went down and grabbed his knees, because most people that kicked in the liver tend to grab their stomach.
Interviewer: Did he (Josh Rosenthal) apologize to you after the fight?
Matthew Riddle: He apologized probably 50 times. He said, 'I'm sorry, Matt' and he just felt he couldn't apologize enough. I told him, 'Hey dude, don't worry about it. It happens.' He's reffed hundreds of fights, thousands, maybe, so he's bound to make a mistake here and there. I feel bad that without that mistake, I think I would have had a pretty spectacular finish. If he didn't stop it, I think I might have had a highlight reel knockout.
Interviewer: The mood at the press conference was reminiscent of a funeral. Dana was pissed, and even the winners weren't too enthusiastic. Was there something that brought you to the point to change the direction it was going, or it just sort of happened organically?
Matthew Riddle: The mood in the room was very depressing. Everybody was like, 'How do you feel about the worst card in UFC history?' I felt bad for Dana, and to be honest, I was a little offended, because every time I fight, I try to put on a show. People were talking about how terrible it was and it offended me. Somebody asked me who I'd like to fight, so I said Dan Hardy. It's a good fight for me, and it puts my name on the map.
Then Dana said, 'Ah, he just doesn't like English people', and that's when I went off and told my story. When I was in Manchester, walking out to my fight, this dude was calling me obscenities and when I looked up, dude just hawks a loogie right in my mouth. I just wanted to kill the guy. I go to jump at him and security grabs me and tells me I can't do that. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. But yeah, I'd like to fight Dan Hardy any day of the week.
I want people to know that I do like English people. I have English fans and I love them. They're a very passionate crowd. They definitely support the sport, but that dude, I'm never going to be able to forgive that. He was a butter-toothed Brit, straight up.
Interviewer: You seemed to take a note from Chael Sonnen's guide on talking up a fight. Would you agree?
Matthew Riddle: That's how Dan Hardy got a title shot. If you think about it, he had like three fights, and two of them were split decisions. Then you got guys like Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks, just knocking people out left and right, and they're still not getting title shots.
I love the fans of MMA, but they're gullible. If you're humble and quiet, you're really just going to have to destroy and decimate everyone in front of you, but if you run your mouth, and really hype yourself up and get the people behind you, you can get a couple split decision victories, and you're like Top 5 in the UFC. It happens really quick for those guys, and it's ridiculous. I've been here for four and a half years, and I'm still just learning on my way up the ladder. I think Dan Hardy is a good match-up for me, and I think my skills and style just crushes his. He would not like to fight me.
Interviewer: Dan tweeted out that a fight with you holds no value for him, and beyond that, he already has a fight with Amir Sadollah booked. What are your thoughts on his dismissal of you?
Matthew Riddle: Yeah, he's fighting my friend, Amir. I think I might go out and help Amir train for that fight [laughs]. I'll get another fight. I'm pretty much injury-free. The only injury I got is a scratch on my forehead.
Interviewer: How long until you think you'll be ready to make a run for the belt?
Matthew Riddle: I'm thinking in three to four years is realistically when I'll be ready. There's just so many studs in the welterweight division right now. With the nature of the sport and injuries, I'm probably only going to be able to get 10-12 fights in over the next four years. For me to work all the way up the ladder, it's going to take time. I'm only 26 years old, so I've got time to learn and grow as a fighter.
You can follow Matthew via his Twitter, @RiddleTUF7