(Matt Riddle: So cool that he can make fun of British people while paying tribute to them at the same time. / Photo via MMAJunkie)
To put it as politely as possible, UFC 149 was a pessimist’s utopia (not to mention an ad-libbers). Cheick Kongo brought the same lackluster gameplan into his fight with Shawn Jordan as he did against guys like Paul Buentello, Matt Mitrione, and Travis Browne, more or less proving that Frank Mir made good on his promise to “change Kongo as a fighter” back at UFC 107. Personally, I was not around to catch the abortion of a “fight” that was Lombard/Boetsch live, but my heart goes out to those of you who were. Lombard’s performance was so outright bizarre that if he were to come out with a Rampage Jackson-esque conspiracy theory about Canadians poisoning his food in the next couple of days, I would be inclined to believe him.
But amidst all of the despair, the dreck, and the gloom, there was one man who simply refused to be held down: Matt f*cking Riddle. Perhaps no one defies the pessimistic nature of many, if not most, MMA fans in the online community more than Riddle, who has shown a willingness to throw a winning gameplan aside for the sake of the fans entertainment on several occasions. Wide-eyed and perpetually grinning throughout nearly all of his fights, Riddle most closely resembles this generation’s Chris Lytle, and his balls to the wall performance against Chris Clements undoubtedly proved that, win or lose, he is main card material.
But greater than his sunny disposition, greater even than the split second securing of that arm-triangle choke in the third round, was the hilarious rant he delivered at the UFC 149 post-fight press conference. When asked why he wanted a piece of Dan Hardy by a reporter, Dana White made a halfhearted joke about the fact that Riddle hated British people, totally unaware of the Spicolian jeremiad that was about to follow.
After Riddle asserts that he only wants to fight Hardy for his name value, DW makes the aforementioned joke, to which Riddle responds:
I will be completely honest, When I fought in Manchester, England, they were very cruel to me. One fan actually spit directly in my face, and he was lucky enough where it hit my mouth. To be completely honest, I don’t have anything against English people, but I’ll go over to London, and I’ll put ‘em down.
It was my first international fight, and it was one I’ll never forget. It was my first loss in the UFC, and ever since I’ve had that loss, I’ve never let anything like that happen to me again. All my other losses are usually ‘Fight of the Night’ or a decision loss, and that was the only time I’ve ever been finished in my career.
…to be disrespected like that was the part that really upset me.
“I’m like his therapist,” White joked. On a side note, if we were to picture The Baldfather’s bedside manner, it would probably resemble something like this.
It was at this point that Riddle landed perhaps the single greatest blow of UFC 149 outside of Ryan Jimmo’s record-tying destruction of Anthony Perosh:
Everybody up here on this table is a world class athlete, and we should be treated like world class athletes. And for some butter-toothed Brit to spit in my mouth, that was some bull, and honestly it’s never been the same.
“Wow,” White exclaimed, echoing the thoughts of every single person who happened to be witnessing this glorious moment in post-fight press conference history. Jimmo looked as if he were ready to piss himself, whereas Renan Barao could only stare at Riddle and wonder what the hell he said that was so damn funny.
Unfortunately for Riddle, it looks like he will have to wait a while to get a shot at Hardy, who responded to the call out via his Twitter:
Why the hell would I fight Riddle? There is no value in it for me and I’d be forced to look at him more than I have to now. (Riddle is) another Justin Bieber looking idiot that clearly knows nothing about the sport.
To a certain extent, Hardy is right, although the need to bring up Justin Bieber seemed a little harsh. A win over Riddle wouldn’t do much for his career, and would completely derail it if he were to lose. On the other hand, Hardy is currently set to face Amir Sodallah, whose stock may very well be lower than that of Riddle’s at the moment, so it’s hard to see what Hardy’s getting at there. Considering that he just scored his first win in two years over an aging veteran in Duane Ludwig, perhaps Hardy shouldn’t be acting like other fighters are below him on the totem pole while simultaneously fighting other guys at the same level. There is also the fact that Hardy has stated on various occasions that he only wants to fight guys who are willing to stand and bang with him. You know, like Matt Hughes. If you haven’t picked up what I’m getting at yet, it’s that Hardy sure likes to call out fighters he thinks he can beat, but doesn’t appreciate it when someone else does the same.
Like we said, Hardy’s still got Sodallah to get through, but after that, we’d like to see this matchup come to fruition. How about you, Potato Nation?