(Photo via Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com)
Brazilian welterweight Paulo Thiago was slated to face Mike “Biggie” Rhodes in a “win or get fired” fight at UFC Fight Night 51: Bigfoot vs. Arlovski (September 13th; Brasilia, Brazil), but Rhodes has withdrawn from the fight due to injury. Coming in to replace Rhodes against Thiago is…Joe Riggs? Really?
UFC officials confirmed the unexpected booking after an initial report from Combate. Riggs is on a six-fight win streak, most recently out-pointing Mike Bronzoulis at Bellator 106 in November to win the first (and last) season of Fight Master. Riggs hasn’t competed in the Octagon since a 4-4 UFC stint way back in 2004-2006, which ended with a quick ‘n’ gnarly knockout loss to Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 7.
(This is the only theory that makes sense.)
Still just 31 years old — he made his pro debut in September 2001, just days after his 19th birthday — Riggs is already a veteran of 55 MMA fights. It’s hard to say how much gas “Diesel” has left in the tank, although it’s good to see him potentially earning some paychecks again, considering that he recently got his ass dug out by the IRS.
Paulo Thiago is desperate for a win these days, having just lost to a non-wiki fighter named Gasan Umalatov at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale, which represented his sixth defeat in his last eight fights. This summer, Thiago helped maintain order at the World Cup in Brazil, and now he has to fight Joe Riggs to save his UFC contract.
It’s a crazy world.