By George Tibbles
CagePotato has allowed me to write an article for its legion of reprobates and cretins — well, in the eyes of some leading industry figures anyway — and I’d like to use this opportunity to issue an open letter to our second-favourite, no wait third-favourite, ahh fuck it, one of the many stoners in MMA, Matt “Deep Waters” Riddle. Matt and I shared a brief moment in time last year, and I want to publicly apologise to him for my actions that night. Hopefully, I didn’t wreck his career.
Allow me to introduce myself and set the scene a little. Initially you may notice my vocabulary may be a bit different. This is due to myself being a typical Limey wanker. So I’ll clear a few things up though before I proceed: I can’t stand tea in any form, in no way are my teeth perfect but they’re not bad either, I think Bisping is awesome, I’m fully aware I may be writing this in German were it not for The US of A’s (late) involvement in WW2, I also whole-heartedly apologise on behalf of my country for this this twat and I am quite susceptible to the lay ‘N’ pray strategy. But I digress.
So let’s rewind back to February 16th, 2013, to the Barao vs McDonald card at the Wembley Arena in London. Now the UFC only comes to my little island once or twice a year and normally brings with it a pretty sub-standard card in terms of name recognition. So, me and my band of merry men turn it into a bit of a “boys” weekend and end up in all types of debauchery, eventually returning home with our tails between our legs and feeling rougher than a badger’s arsehole.
This particular card is pretty much a drunken haze, and I can only remember pieces of it. The Snake’s leg internally combusting. Watson repeatedly kneeing Nedkov. During the Poirier/Swanson fight, there was an equally good fight going on in the stands. (In the third round, Swanson put his hand to his ear thinking the crowd was cheering him, but in actual fact the crowd was cheering the huge fella raining down bombs on some poor twat.) And a delightful member of bar staff named Shaniqua who had tickled my fancy and was evidently turned off by how unbelievably twatted I was.
It was at UFC 138 where we discovered that, at UK events at least, the UFC puts the fighters in the closest Hilton Hotel to the event stadium. So for each event we go to, we always head to the nearest Hilton and have our post-fight/pre-club drinks there. After this particular card, the strategy paid off in droves.
As we went to enter the Wembley Hilton, the concierge arrogantly refused to let us in, as we were showing obvious signs of prior P.E.D. abuse and smelt like the inside of Susan Boyle’s thigh after a particularly intense Zumba class. So we decided to set up camp just outside the entrance and meet as many people as we could before our lift back home arrived.
We were chatting with “One Punch” Pickett when another fighter showed up, and I saw my chance to get past the toffee-nosed prick of a concierge. The fighter in question was Matt Riddle — someone who I know is close friends with Mary, Jane and Doctor Greenthumb. Already feeling fearless due to consuming a violent cocktail of Cuban Rum, Guinness, red wine and combination E numbers even the current British government wouldn’t allow in our now famous Horse Lasagne, I decided to make a daring move.
I casually sauntered over to Matt, reached into my Guinness sodden Levi’s and then pulled out a bag of bud so appetising no self-respecting Ent could refuse it. Particularly an Ent who has just gone fifteen minutes with the “Beautiful One”. So I got the bud and gently cupped it in my hand, proceeded to walk over to Deep Waters, and shouted “Hey Matt can you sign my hand?”. Initially he looked at me all weird, as anyone would do to a fully grown man with pupils the size of dinner plates asking for you to sign his hand. I thought “Oh Shit”; my intoxicated brain had not considered this scenario. I suavely locked eyes with Matt and said assertively, “Just look in my hand Matt.”
As Matt’s eyes slowly started to draw down to my hand I could tell he was expecting there to be a Polaroid of me in ladies underwear, a knife, or just something generally unpleasant. Then it happened, he locked eyes with my green nugget of hunger inducing goodness and gave me a wry smirk (phew!). He then told me to follow him up to his room and told the concierge we were his brothers. As I walked past the concierge I flipped him the Stockton Heybuddy and we were in. Jurassic park!
Once in Matt’s room I started to roll up. Just as I was finishing rolling I asked Matt if he was coming out for a smoke. Matt told me he couldn’t smoke as he hadn’t spoken to Dana yet, who normally comes to congratulate him after his wins, and he definitely didn’t want to be having that conversation while high as a kite. We sat down, talked and drank a nice quantity of liquor, and spoke for a while about his previous marijuana suspension. Matt proudly proclaimed he hadn’t smoked anything for over a full month before his fight with Che Mills, talked about when he won a wrestling competition that Jon Jones was in, about how he learned most of his technique in the early days from BJ Penn’s books, and generally was a down to earth guy who seemed sincerely grateful and surprised he still had fans in the UK after the “butter toothed Brits” comment. What you see is what you get with Matt; he really was exactly as he comes across in press conferences and on TUF.
(A short video from the night in question, courtesy of the author.)
Now this is where my apology comes into play. I have a problem when I’m drunk and that problem is irrational Kleptomania. Basically, I steal random shit when I’m drunk. My house is full of used fire extinguishers, road signs, and even the queue separators from KFC (don’t ask). Anyway, Matt’s suitcase was casually laid open in the middle of the room and on top was a pair of beat up camouflage 6oz MMA sparring gloves. Suddenly my Kleptomania reaches fever point.
So I fake a phone call, quietly pick the gloves up, and tell everybody I’m going to the corridor to finish my conversation and for them to let me back in shortly. Once in the hotel corridor I run about fifteen rooms down and stash the gloves. I then walk back into the room feeling like a boss only to have a sudden realisation…our lift back home isn’t due for another 45 minutes and my friends won’t want to leave until then without good reason. However in the middle of this god damn room (no bigger than 5×5 meters), is Matt’s suitcase splayed open like a cheap Thai whore, with his gloves missing. For 45 bastard minutes my arsehole was like a yawning hippo and I was constantly trying to divert his attention away from the suitcase like a scene in a bad 80’s sitcom.
An hour or so later my friend called to say he was outside, so we said our goodbyes to Matt and thanked him for a great night. As we were leaving I started to feel guilty about the gloves but it was too late to give them back. I decided I would give Matt something he truly desired, a nice big bud of Amsterdam’s finest.
Theoretically, that would have been the first bit of weed that Matt smoked for over a month (if he was being honest, which he seemed to be). Since reading about the events that transpired shortly after — Matt’s second positive test for marijuana and his immediate release from the UFC — and not knowing when the positive sample was taken, I’ve had a bit of a moral dilemma. Potentially the good deed green I gave him triggered a Butterfly Effect chain of events that led to Matt being cut. I lost a few nights sleep over this (metaphorically speaking, that is, since I sleep harder than a narcoleptic watching baseball) but I came to the realisation that despite his well-documented love of marijuana, Matt was his own man and in control of his own destiny.
So Matt, if you’re reading this, I just want to say sorry about the gloves, man. Get in contact with me and I will get them back out to you. They’ve been at a good home and have been the centrepiece of one of my BEST drunken stories since. Thanks for getting us past that snotty concierge and being the innocent, likeable, and almost juvenile Matt Riddle that I and the MMA community have come to know and appreciate you for.
I hope to see you back in the UFC soon on your one-man mission to out-wrestle us Brits.