In a time when it seems that no job is safe with the UFC, it pays to be extra cautious. A waltz upon eggshells is the preferred method of movement, rather than blustering forth, willy nilly. Bearing this in mind, you can't begin to imagine the shock I registered when I'd heard that former UFC welterweight, Matt Riddle, had been released from his contract after testing positive for marijuana metabolites for the second time in the span of less than a year. You could have knocked me over with a brick-laden bag of feathers.
Riddle, who says he is medically prescribed the forbidden greenery by a licensed physician, definitely has a fondness for the relief it brings, and often supplements it with it's heavier, more potent cousin, hashish, albeit the latter doesn't come with a formal prescription. Regardless of the medical efficacy it provides in relieving his anxiety issues, it is on the banned substance list put forth by the athletic commission, and even a trace of it, also known as a metabolite, will render a positive test, and create a slew of professional problems.
Was this a simple case of miscalculation on when to stop 'taking his medicine'? I asked Mr. Riddle this question and several more, regarding his release and career future. Here's what he had to say on a wide variety of topics:
Since my release from the UFC, I've been getting a lot of offers to fight on the regional circuit, both small and bigger shows. I'm probably going to continue fighting for the next couple years, at least. I'm also blowing glass now, because I've got more time on my hands. I'm pretty sure between those two things, that I'll make enough money to where I won't need to worry about anything.
Point of no return
I was serious when I said I wasn't interested in going back to the UFC. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job, but over the last couple years, I've seen them release a lot of good people that were there before I was, and then they turn around and hire younger guys for less money.
Just the way they do business, you know how they bought out every other company or put them out of business and absorbed their fighters ... they took what they wanted, really. Me personally, I just don't want to work for somebody that does stuff like that. They fire guys like Jon Fitch and jeopardize the integrity of the sport over a couple extra dollars.
The UFC kind of has the attitude that you need them, they don't need you, but in all actuality, there's plenty of fight shows out there that pay well. There's also a huge fan base outside of the UFC. I did want to finish my career in the UFC, and I'd be a liar if I said I was happy that I got cut. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I wish that I hadn't gotten cut, but at the same time, it opens up my career and allows me to do a lot of things, and be myself, even more so.
Even before all this, I was already being told to keep my mouth shut about the whole medical marijuana thing and a bunch of other stuff, so now I can kind of be myself. I'm happy about it and I almost feel free. I'm not under the scrutiny of the UFC anymore. It's just business. That's what they said to me on the phone, it's just business.
State of shock
I was genuinely shocked when I heard I'd been cut, but I was more shocked that I had failed the test. I quit three weeks out, so I'm still very suspicious about that. I'm going to look into that test. I feel that a lot of things were happening at that moment in my career, and it was just very coincidental that I failed the drug test. Trust me, I quit three weeks out, and I've passed them before from only two weeks out. I find the whole thing really suspicious.
If they were willing to fire somebody of Fitch's caliber, it doesn't matter who you are. I won four in a row, but I sure got that same call, just a week after Fitch did.
UFC's talent needs
I don't believe the UFC thinks that they need anybody. With someone like Nick Diaz, they know that he'll sell enough tickets and put enough asses in the seats, so they feel he's worth the money they pay him. Someone like me, with a pretty good win streak, well, I was making pretty good money. I wasn't making Fitch money, but I was making almost $30k just to show up.
I think it's fair for Dave Herman, but it really all comes down to politics. He goes out there, steps in the center of the ring, and throws for the fences every time he fights. He's a big striker, and they really like strikers. I don't blame them. They're exciting fights, but dude is on a three fight losing streak and failed two drug tests, yet he still has a job. I'm on a four fight win streak, failed two drug tests ... in three fights. You have to remember that. It's not like I failed two in a row. I passed one in between. So yeah, it's a little shitty, but at the same time, it's politics. I guarantee you, I'll become much more successful outside the UFC than I ever would have inside.
Outspoken fighters ruffle feathers
I did a couple of interviews, I know one was with you, I mentioned that Joe Silva didn't give me the Dan Hardy fight. Not only that, he didn't give me the Hardy fight after I beat Mills. That was the deal we had on the telephone. He said if I beat Mills, I got Dan Hardy. That was the only reason I agreed to go over to England again.
When I saw Joe Silva at the event, it was noticeable that he wasn't pleased with me. He didn't come into the ring after I won, like he normally does. Behind the scenes, they do that post fight conference, and Dana was pretty cool, but when I saw Joe, I went to shake his hand, and he barely gave me two fingers. He was very cold, and I could definitely tell he wasn't happy with me.
The fact that he tweeted that makes me want to show up to Drysdale's and beat the shit out of him. Actually, I don't really give a shit. I see him there at Drysdale's from time to time. He really doesn't work on his ground game too much, so he's not there too often.
We've actually spoken a few times, and are nice to each other. He's even wished me luck before, but then he hits up Twitter, after I get fired, and that's pretty gay. I'm gonna have to talk to him.
The traveling man
I kind of want to be the traveling man. I kind of want to bounce around, and even if I fight with a sound promotion, I'd kind of like to have an open contract. It's not that I'd want to leave or anything. Obviously I would fulfill whatever fights I'd signed on for, but at the same time, I'd like the flexibility to be able to fight somewhere else, too.
Maybe I could do something with Bellator, because I really want to win a tournament. I wouldn't mind hopping in one of those, throwing my hat in there. I just want to stay active. I would love to be able to fight five or six times a year. I'm hitting my stride, I'm in great shape ... fighting is easy now.
How much weed could a Matt Riddle puff if he could puff, would puff weed?
I would say, well, here's the thing, 3-3.5 grams sounds about right, but I smoke some hash, too. So maybe I only smoke a gram and a half of weed, but I also smoke a gram of hash, so it might equal out to somewhere in that neighborhood. With the kids, you know my family has grown, I really don't have as much time to roast a bone, or smoke a bunch of bowls. Sometimes, a quick dab will have to do ya.
I think one thing that might have contributed to it is that I don't have trouble making weight any more. I used to almost die making weight, so I'd have to really sweat to get the weight off. Now, I'm on weight well in advance, and I'm thinking that maybe I'm not sweating some of that stuff out. My body isn't flushing it like before. That was on two weeks notice. This time it was three weeks, and I just find it so hard to see how I failed it this time. I know in the future, I'm just gonna have to quit about five weeks out. I would say four, but I'm afraid that might be cutting it too close.
Business is business
It wasn't the athletic commission, it was the UFC. It was their own test that got me. They handled it themselves. They did everything.
The bottom line is it's a business, and I think they're doing what they feel is the smartest thing for their business. They're here to make the most money they can. They're adding more weight classes, adding the women's division, and just doing a lot of things that keep them busy all the time. They probably feel they made the right move because they have enough welterweights, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, it's just business.
You can follow Matt via his Twitter account, @RiddleTUF7