Joe “Diesel” Riggs has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his mixed martial arts career. At only 26 years old this 170 pound fighter that used to fight around the 280 pound range has been through a lot in a short amount of time to say the least.
Riggs had a chance at championship glory in the UFC, a post-fight hospital room brawl with Nick Diaz and just missed an opportunity to put an early stop to the mma media phenomenon known as Kimbo Slice.
Riggs most recent fight was a controversial second round technical knockout loss to Kazuo Misaki that most feel was stopped prematurely. Looking to turn a page in his mma career and put the loss to Misaki behind him, Riggs will have the opportunity on November 21st in his last fight on his contract with Strikeforce to rebound in impressive fashion when he faces the always dangerous Luke Stewart.
Never one to sugar coat how he feels, PRO MMA spoke with Joe recently to find out exactly how he feels about Luke Stewart, Kimbo Slice, Jake Shields and where he may end up after the last fight on his Strikeforce contract.
PRO MMA: Hey Joe thanks for taking this time with us. How are you feeling physically right now? Are your past injuries still nagging you or are you back to 100%?
Joe Riggs: I’ve been good for a long time. I’ve been training hard for a while now.
PRO MMA: Where have you been training lately and who have you been training with?
Joe Riggs: I’ve just been sparring a lot with my boxing camp that I’ve been with since I was ten years old, Edwin Dewees and a bunch of really good jiu-jitsu guys down at the Lion’s Den. I’ve also been training at Xtreme Couture down in Vegas so I’ve been kind of going back and forth.
PRO MMA: So after the first bout was canceled it looks like you’re finally going to fight Luke Stewart on November 21st. What are your thoughts on Stewart and how do you feel you guys match up?
Joe Riggs: Stewart’s a tough guy. He’s a jiu-jitsu black belt so anytime you fight a guy with that kind of background you have to be careful. At the end of the day he’s a tough guy but he’s just a club fighter and it should be a fairly easy win for me but you never know, it’s mixed martial arts so you have to be careful. I’m going to train like he’s a guy like Misaki. I’m going to train hard for him.
PRO MMA: Is the Luke Stewart fight the last fight on your contract with Strikeforce?
Joe Riggs: Yes it is.
PRO MMA: I saw that Rage in the Cage had you listed on their November 8th show but Strikeforce has come out and said you definitely will not be fighting on that card. Can you shed some light on that situation for us?
Joe Riggs: Well Roland, the owner of Rage in the Cage, asked me months ago if I would be willing to fight in their first card that would be full mma rules and I said that if I didn’t have anything coming up that I would be more than happy to, you know, just in case I sign with the UFC it would probably be the last time I would be able to do it. So I said yeah but it all depends on if Scott Coker and Strikeforce don’t have anything for me and if they allow me. That was like five months ago and without even asking me they just put my name on there, it is what it is but I’m definitely not fighting on that card.
PRO MMA: What are you walking around at right now and how tough, if at all, do you expect the cut to 170 to be?
Joe Riggs: I’m about 205 right now. I’ve been eating kind of shitty for a few weeks after my last fight so I gained quite a bit of weight back but it shouldn’t be too hard. A lot of it’s water weight and I’ll just diet down. It’s probably at least fifteen pounds of water weight to cut so it won’t be as bad as when I had to cut for Hughes. It will be a task but it’s not going to be that hard. I’m five weeks out so that’s quite a while.
PRO MMA: So are you at 170 to stay?
Joe Riggs: Yeah, that’s where I’m at. That’s for sure where I’m at.
PRO MMA: Are your plans to resign with Strikeforce or are you planning to kind of play the market after this fight?
Joe Riggs: I’m looking forward to finishing up my last fight on the contract with a devastating knockout and get my stock back up there and bring that into my next contract whether it be with the UFC or Strikeforce or whoever. Strikeforce has treated me very well and I’d be more than happy to stay with them. They’re a great organization that put on good shows and they’ve been really good to me. They’re one of the best out there, you know, Scott Coker’s been around since the early 90’s. That guy’s a freaking pioneer.
PRO MMA: I want to ask you about three different promotions and just kind of get some brief thoughts on each one and whether or not they would be an organization you would like to fight for in the future. First off, the big dog, The UFC?
Joe Riggs: Yeah, the UFC’s great. Obviously they’re the super bowl of mixed martial arts right now and that’s where everyone wants to be that hasn’t been there but those that have been there know it’s just another show.
PRO MMA: Affliction?
Joe Riggs: I don’t think they’re going to do very well. They put on huge shows which is great for the mixed martial arts fans but the average joe doesn’t know who a lot of these fighters are. I think that if they put too much money into the fight card and not enough into promoting it they will dig themselves into a huge financial hole that they won’t be able to get out of. I hope that I’m wrong but I just don’t think they’ll be around much longer.
PRO MMA: What about EliteXC? Would you ever consider fighting for them?
Joe Riggs: Yeah, I would but it’s kind of the same thing where it’s a wild card like with the Kimbo thing. They’re putting all of their eggs in the same basket when he’s obviously just a turd. He’s just a sham and then he gets exposed and now there’s this whole big investigation with what happened with Seth Petruzelli. I’m leery of an organization that hasn’t proven themselves. Like Strikeforce has been there for a long time and they’ll continue to be here for a long time.
PRO MMA: And just think that all of this Kimbo madness would have been avoided if he had taken the fight with you back in 2003.
Joe Riggs: It would have. I’m telling you all of this shit would have been over a long time ago if he would have taken the fight and I would have just stomped him out back in 03 and all of this bullshit would have been over with. It would have saved EliteXC a lot of trouble too because of all the money they put into advertising him and getting him on the covers of magazines and the ultimately embarrassed the whole organization.
PRO MMA: Yeah if there would have been a video on YouTube of Diesel knocking out Kimbo none of this would have ever started.
Joe Riggs: For sure man. I mean Sean Gannon beat him and Gannon couldn’t fight his way out of a paper sack. Gannon beat him up and Gannon was on the same card with me when I fought Chris Lytle at UFC 55 and that guy was fucking clueless! That guy fought a low level UFC fighter, Brandon Lee Hinkle, and got put in the hospital. I went to the hospital later that night to check on Chris Lytle and Sean Gannon was there just looking like he was the fucking elephant man. So that just shows you the difference in skill levels.
PRO MMA: Now that you’re at 170 I want to find out your thoughts on a couple guys. First off, Jake Shields?
Joe Riggs: Jake Shields is a stud. Jake Shields is a guy that hasn’t had a lot of exposure to the mainstream fans but he’s as tough as they come. Shields is a really good fighter.
PRO MMA: Carlos Condit?
Joe Riggs: Condit’s another guy that’s really tough. He’s got good stand up and a good ground game. I think a fighter like myself would expose him, you know, put him on his back and ground and pound him but he’s a very tough fighter. He’s earned what he’s got.
PRO MMA: What do you think about the Koscheck /Alves fight and who do you expect to come out on top of that one?
Joe Riggs: I think Koscheck’s going to run through him. Alves is a tough guy but Hughes was at the end of his rope when he beat him. When Alves fought Chris Lytle, Lytle was winning that fight until he got cut and they stopped it but when Koscheck fought Lytle he rolled through him. I know styles make fights but I think it’s going to be pretty much the same thing. I think Alves is going to get taken down and pounded out.
PRO MMA: If you had the opportunity to take a month and train with one fighter and their camp, who would it be? Who do you think you could learn the most from?
Joe Riggs: Xtreme Couture. I went up there for my last fight and there’s just so many tough guys. Plus they have the UNLV boxing coach down there and a guy like Randy Couture that you can learn just an unlimited amount of things from because he’s been in the game for so many years. So, Xtreme Couture but besides that Jeremy Horn has taught me a lot and when I go out to Ohio, Rich Franklin and all of those guys.
PRO MMA: Switching gears real quick, can you tell me what’s in your cd player right now?
Joe Riggs: Right now, Travis Tritt.
PRO MMA: Joe, thanks for your time man. Any sponsors or teammates you want to thank before I let you go?
Joe Riggs: Just the guys down at Lion’s Den, Rick Roufus and all of those guys. As always, Tapout and of course, Ken Pavia and MMA Agents.
PRO MMA: Alright Joe, thanks and take care.
Joe Riggs: Alright, thanks man.