Back at Arizona Combat Sports, Riggs looks to handle his business with Baroni, wants Shields next

Joe Riggs recently returned to Arizona Combat Sports where he trained for multiple years before leaving. “This is where I belong, this is where I started my career, this is where I was the most dominant, being here with Trevor and Todd Lally,” Riggs recently told PRO MMA ( “They weren’t just my trainers, they were like my older brothers, and now they have a bunch of stellar athletes to go along with their teachings.”

Now facing Phil Baroni, “Diesel” is ready to start a new streak of victories and has his sights set on Jake Shields and an eventual shot at the the vacant Strikeforce Welterweight Title.

Riggs vs. Shields was all but set in stone and scheduled to go down back on April 11, 2009 but was canceled in favor of a Shields matchup with Strikeforce Middleweight Champion slugger Robbie Lawler.

The news came as a shock for “Diesel”, who already had a very promising training camp following the recovery of a broken hand he received in the first round of his last bout against Luke Stewart.

Riggs has had a history of injuries, but told PRO MMA ( he was “100% healthy and in the best shape of his life,” ready to face Shields when he got the news about the fight being canceled. Once he found out that he would be facing Baroni instead, and not until June, Riggs took two weeks off from training, then got back into the gym to start his camp in preparation of facing “The New York Bad Ass.”

Although Riggs respects Phil Baroni as a fighter, he was hoping for a bigger name to catapult himself back into the top 10 rankings, and get him one step closer to another world championship.

“I was hoping to get a bigger name, I mean Phil’s a name and he deserves a certain amount of respect, but I was hoping to get something where I could get back into the top 10 and go on from there,” Riggs told PRO MMA ( “I think that after I beat up on Phil, I’ll be able to get Shields and do what I want to do with that. It’ll come, it just may take a little longer.”

Don’t think for one second that “Diesel” is overlooking the still very dangerous Baroni, and the war of words has proven to add more motivation to Riggs as he looks to finish Baroni in devastating fashion this Saturday night (June 6th), at “Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields,” taking place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

“I think I’m going to kick the shit out of him, he’s very limited with what he has, he’s just a puncher and has some wrestling, but he’s failed to evolve,” said Riggs. I’m going to knock him out!”

Riggs also offered his opinion on people thinking he’s looking too far ahead and past Baroni saying, “People say don’t look too far ahead. I don’t agree with that, I can look as far ahead as I want. It doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about my opponent.”

Fresh off a newly signed three fight deal with Strikeforce, a dominating performance against Baroni may set up that match with Shields, and Riggs believes that Shields wasn’t ready to face him back in April and won’t be ready in the future either.

“I know he was scared. I’m not saying he was afraid of me as an individual, but losing to me is what he was afraid of,” said Riggs. “He knows if he loses to Lawler he can just say that he lost to a bigger fighter, a top three guy, and then come back down to 170 with nothing to lose.”

“Right now I’m ready to fight the best, I always have been, but now I’m ready to perform the way that I know I’m able to.”

By: Denny Hodge