For many fighters, the days leading up to a fight are often just as difficult to deal with as the fight itself. Compiled with a grueling weight cut, hours of media interviews and promotional obligations, you have to finish preparing yourself physically and mentally for up to 25 minutes of all out war. For UFC Welterweight, Matt Riddle, the stress leading up to his fight at tomorrow’s UFC of Fuel TV 7 has been compounded by the fight’s location: London, England.
“I would have to say it’s hostile territory,” he says to BloodyElbow.com, “especially for a guy like me. [The English] don’t like me, especially after that one press conference, they really don’t like me.” The press conference Riddle refers to came post UFC 149, when he recounted being spit on and verbally abused by the UK fans.
So why, then, would Riddle agree to fight again in the UK? When discussing possible fights he told UFC match-maker, Joe Silva, “I don’t want to go back to England unless I fight Dan Hardy.” The two agreed that Riddle would face Hardy if he beats Che Mills in London, but Riddle says that may not be the case. “I see that Dan Hardy is fighting Matt Brown like a month and a half after I’m fighting Che Mills, and there is no way he’ll take a fight with me after that. I think it was just a ploy to make me sign a contrack and get back to England so I can get spit on again, so I’m a little pissed off [laughs]… Thing is, I know Matt Brown is gonna knock Dan out, so why would I even want to fight him after that fight, anyway? It was kind of a slap in my face… Obviously we’ll still do business together, but I… would be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt.”
Riddle brings up a good point about the timeline of these fights. If both he and Hardy win their fights, Riddle will be lined up to fight months before Hardy’s next fight. He hinted at the option of stepping up to fight Hardy in April if the Brit’s opponent, Matt Brown, gets hurt.
The seed has been planted for this fight for some time, particularly after Riddle’s infamous rant at the UFC 149 post-fight press conference. Dana White even stated that he wanted to make the matchup between the two.
Toward his opponent in tomorrow’s fight, Riddle shows the utmost confidence. “I’m just gonna go out there and get my win. Maybe I’ll just go out there and hug Che for 15 minutes, give the UFC what they want, I guess. If they want me to get disrespected, I may as well disrespect the fight game and take down Che Mills and hug him.” While this may be disheartening news for fans looking for a 15 minute battle, one thing is certain- Matt Riddle should be looking to make a statement tomorrow.
The fight between Matt Riddle and Che Mills will be the first fight on the UFC on Fuel TV 7 Main Card. These fights begin live on Fuel TV tomorrow, Feb 16, at 3pm ET/12 PT. Preliminary fights will air on the UFC’s Facebook page beginning at 12:15 ET/9:15am PT.Tags: Che Mills, Dan Hardy, fuel tv, london, Matt Riddle, MMA NEWS, TRT, ufc, uk