Joe ‘Diesel’ Riggs will be fighting for the 55th time in his professional career tonight against Mike Bronzoulis at Bellator 106. This fight will determine the winner of Bellator’s Fight Master season 1. The fight was originally scheduled in September, but a serious eye injury sustained by Riggs forced the bout to be moved to Bellator 106. Due to Tito Ortiz’s injury, Riggs and Bronzoulis will now be fighting on the main card of Bellator 106. I recently spoke with Riggs about his upcoming fight with Bronzoulis, his time on Fight Master, the UFC, and much more.
I am excited to be on the main card. It is definitely unfortunate what happened to Tito, but at least the fans get to see a great card for free on Spike. The fact that the PPV was scrapped does not really affect me. I was going to fight on Spike TV anyways. Now, more people should be watching my fight and the card as a whole, so that is good.
His relationship with Mike Bronzoulis
Towards the end of the show Mike and I started to become close. We spent a lot of time together so I learned about his upbringing and his background. Being in a house you get close with these guys. As for the fight, it’s just business. I have been fighting for so many years, and he has barely started. I have myself and my family to take care of.
His eye and preparation for the fight
My eye has been totally healed for about two months now. I only took off about a week of training and I did not spar for three weeks. I bought headgear that covered my whole face, which allowed me to keep training hard afterwards. I have been training at the MMA Lab with Benson Henderson, Jamie Varner, and Tim Welch. We have a bunch of really tough guys in there and a great head coach in John Crouch. I have never been so prepared for a fight in my life.
There were times I did enjoy, but being away from my family was rough. Overall, it worked out well for me, but it was a really hard thing for me to do. As for the show itself, we didn’t have much to do. We would bet on pool games and whoever lost would have to do something terrible. When I lost, I had to shave my entire head bald. The show decided to just show me from having blonde hair to being bald; they never showed me losing the bet. I thought the producers might stop us because they wanted me to keep my hair, but they didn’t.
The craziest thing he has seen in his career
Kevin Randleman was getting ready to fight Pedro Rizzo at UFC 24, but tripped and KO’ed himself in the back. They had to scrap the title fight in the middle of the event! Another crazy story was when Diego Sanchez and Nick Diaz were talking crap to each other backstage before their fight, with only a sheet separating them. Nick was cursing him out and eventually threw his shoe at Diego.
Nick is crazy dude, man. He is way crazier than his brother. When I fought Nick Diaz, I wasn’t in awe of his skill, but in awe of the damage that he was able to take. I was giving him all I had, and he took some really big shots but would not go away. When I think about the hospital brawl we had, I still shake my head in disbelief. I still don’t understand how that happened.
Why he still fights after all these years
I absolutely love the sport. When I was younger I would say that I wanted to hurt people and that kind of stuff. Now that I am older, I realize I am a good guy and I don’t want to cause anyone physical pain, I just love the sport. At this point in my career I am dialed in. I have never trained like this in my life during the winning streak I am on. I want to fight to the best of my ability and keep it going. The losses I had were all mental. If I come to fight ready mentally, it is very hard to beat me. There is no doubt in my mind that no matter what happens, I will not lose mentally.
One rematch he would love to have
I would really like to fight Mike Swick again. That night, I did not even try to fight him. Mentally, I was not there. He won the fight before I even walked out. My performance that night makes me sick because I know I could have beaten him easily.
His greatest career moment
Definitely getting the call that I would be fighting in the UFC. That was my all time greatest feeling ever. After all my hard work, I finally made it to the big show.