When Joe Riggs made his UFC debut against Joe Doersken at UFC 49, the hype came along with him.
For those of you who are unfamilar with “Diesel”, a quick summary of things:
Riggs had made a name for himself in smaller organizations, primarily RITC, for his powerful strikes and amazing strength. Starting his professional MMA career at 300 lbs, Riggs had gradually dropped weight to the point where he was able to fight at 185 lbs.
Absolutely huge for the middleweight division, many thought the then 21-year old Riggs would be a force in the UFC. He went on to stop Doersken in the second round at UFC 49 and then racked up wins over Chilo Gonzalez and Thomas Gil in the WEC and RITC respectively. Everything was set for Riggs to go on and shine. Then a series of unfortunate events happened…
Riggs was submitted by Ivan Salaverry at UFC 52. The loss started a chain of inconsistency for Riggs in the UFC. Wins over Chris Lytle, Nick Diaz, and Jason Von Flue were countered with losses to Matt Hughes, Mike Swick, and Diego Sanchez. Riggs could never put together a pair of wins. The fight against Matt Hughes was supposed to be for Hughes’ UFC Welterweight Title, until Riggs failed to make weight that is.
Despite a win over Von Flue, the summer of 2006 was especially hard for Riggs. Riggs and his wife had a daughter that passed away only a few days after birth. Riggs also admitted his addiction to painkillers and prescription medicine on various radio shows. After cleaning himself up, Riggs was assigned to the WEC’s middleweight division where he was signed to fight Hiromitsu Miura only to have to pull out the day before the fight due to a back injury.
Fast forward eight months. Ankle and back surgery was successful for Riggs. He is now clean, healthy, and a brand new father. At only 24 years of age, Riggs has more MMA experience than some fighters will ever have. However this next experience is certain to be the most important of Riggs’ career.
Enter Dan Chambers.
Like Riggs, Chambers has had success in the RITC promotion, where he has racked up 6 of his 9 MMA victories. He is primarily a striker but also possesses adequate submission skills. With wins over a lot of unknown fighters, Chambers seems to be not a victim of circumstance, but an example of being in the right place at the right time.
Chambers is set to battle Riggs at Hardcore Championship Fighting’s Unfinished Business event on July 21. Riggs has a chance to get back on track and pick up a much needed win. Chambers has the opportunity to steal a win from a big name and possibly get himself recognized by some of the bigger promotions out there. This fight means much more than that though, courtesy of the UFC.
The UFC has apparently informed Riggs that if he loses to Chambers, he will be released from his current contract with the UFC and WEC. If Chambers is victorious, he will be offered a standard contract with the UFC.
Chambers plans on taking advantage of the opportunity:
“Word has it that if I beat him he will retire from the UFC and WEC for good. I am going to retire Joe Riggs, how many people can say that?” said Chambers. “Not many people are giving me a chance, but if I go in there and lose, well, I did what everybody thought I was going to do, but if I win, this will open up so many doors for me. He’s been in there with the best, and this is a good chance to show that I belong there as well.”
As expected, Riggs sees things differently than Chambers and plans on walking out of the River Cree Resort and Casino still an employee of Zuffa:
“He has nothing to lose and I have everything to lose, so every time you fight someone like that it can be dangerous,” stated Riggs. But I just got to go out and put on a good show and knock his teeth in, be done with it… and go home.”
“I have more talent than anyone in this game, much less that guy,” touted Riggs. I am a pro boxer and an All-American wrestler; I got it all. He is definitely going to pick his poison. All I have thought about lately is getting back in the ring. I just had a baby boy a couple weeks ago and I am fighting to make a living. I doubt this guy does this for a living. This is how I feed my family.”