(Matt’s actual marijuana card, via @riddletuf7)
For the second time in less than a year, UFC welterweight Matt Riddle has tested positive for marijuana in a post-fight drug test, spurring the UFC to release him from his contract. Riddle’s latest failed test followed his split-decision win over Che Mills at UFC on FUEL 7 in London on February 16th, which came just seven months after his 90-day marijuana suspension following his UFC 149 win over Chris Clements. That victory was later changed to a no-contest, and it’s likely that Riddle’s latest win will be overturned as well.
Riddle was already on thin ice with the UFC because of the quality of his recent fights. Here’s Dana White calling him out by name while discussing the UFC’s decision to cut Jon Fitch: “Riddle fights just like Fitch. Has been lately, anyway. He went from being super exciting to now he wants to grab your legs and hold you down.”
Riddle had long maintained that he doesn’t use marijuana to get high, but for therapeutic purposes. As Riddle explained on The MMA Hour last October:
“I do smoke but I’m not smoking to get stoned. I’m smoking so I can finally relax, sit back and just not worry about things. People, maybe they did it in college one way, but for a guy like me, for a professional athlete that goes through what we go through, it’s medicine for me. Maybe for some little stoner sitting on the couch playing XBox, for him, it’s a drug. For me, it’s medicine…
I don’t really understand the process anymore because I thought if you have a medical license and you’re prescribed by a doctor, all the guys are taking HGH and testosterone and fighting and getting the upper hand on people and I’ve already had serious injuries in my career already and I am only 26 and I am in serious pain sometimes and I use that. I use medical marijuana for my pain and I use it for everything else, too. I don’t take anything else while I see all of these other fighters popping Oxycontin and taking testosterone and just beating themselves up, so you know. They can do whatever they want to do, I am going to do what I do, and there is a reason why I am who I am. There is a reason why I don’t get hurt or don’t get tired.”
Earlier this month, Riddle claimed he had stopped smoking weed three weeks before his fight against Che Mills in order to avoid another positive test — and had a hard time sleeping and eating because of it. He also vented more about MMA’s double-standard with TRT, in a very revealing interview with MMAWeekly:
“You can do steroids in the UFC now, didn’t you hear? [TRT] is steroids and you can do steroids as long as you get a doctor’s note now. So Vitor Belfort just pops for testosterone and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, he failed.’ No he didn’t, he has a doctor’s note so it’s okay. And honestly, I think it’s ridiculous. The reason why they say I can’t use marijuana is because it’s a performance-enhancing drug. Okay, I understand that. It’s a performance-enhancing drug to you. Whatever. But testosterone isn’t? Steroids aren’t? And if you’re saying I can’t smoke because you need to keep other fighters safe or myself safe because I’m too high, don’t you think you should keep others safe by not letting people using steroids into the cage? That’s how I look at it…
“And on top of all that, it wouldn’t bother me if they tested for THC, because I would never fail for THC because I would literally have to be that high when they tested me or I’d have to be high the day before. Instead they just test you for metabolites which you just mentioned which can stay in your system for up to a month after you’re done smoking. Let’s be honest. It’s White America, it’s the big man, it’s the guy with the money, it’s the pharmaceutical companies, it’s the alcohol companies that don’t want want marijuana legalized and they’ll do anything. They’ll ridicule it, they’ve already had slanderous campaigns about it.
I’ve been smoking weed since I was 13 and look at me. I’m in the UFC and I smash people with a smile on my face. It’s not a performance enhancing drug. It makes me relax. It makes me happy. Honestly, it probably keeps me from beating my three kids because they’re always screaming and crying at me and my wife’s crazy and you know what life’s like. It’s hard sometimes and honestly, I like to go to my game room and rip a tube and just sit back and relax and enjoy a 20 minute show, go out, see my family, take care of everything I have to take care of, and that’s what I do. A lot of people think it’s okay to drink a fifth of jack and beat their wife. I don’t.”
I tend to quote Dr. Drew in situations like this: Addiction is continued use in the face of adverse consequences. I know some people will want to turn this story into a conversation about personal freedom, and how athletic commissions shouldn’t even be testing for marijuana metabolites in the first place. And I certainly don’t disagree with that. But the reality is, marijuana is currently an unapproved substance in MMA, and if Riddle continued to smoke after his first suspension, it suggests that his usage is now beyond his control. Does weed improve his mood, and help him to avoid beating his wife and kids? Sure, probably. He’ll just have to decide if it was worth screwing his career over.