Joe Riggs shot himself in the hand and leg about a month ago. And in exchange for his near death experience, we got some graphic photos and a chance to reflect on firearms safety. According to TMZ, the fountainhead for all seconds-later news, “the UFC [said] the whole thing was just an ‘unfortunate accident’ that occurred while Joe was cleaning his pistol at his home in AZ.”
That’s not exactly true, according to the guy whose fingerprints are on the weapon.
“I can’t tell you how many times I read that this happened while I was trying to clean the gun. I wasn’t cleaning the gun. Nobody cleans a f***ing loaded gun!” he said in an interview with Aaron Robbins of Last Word on Sports.
The story according to Riggs is a little more bizarre. It involves a friend at the gym cocking his loaded weapon, and watching The Bachelor on TV while eating blueberries.
“This is what actually happened. One of my friends had cocked the gun at the gym. We had to get back to practice, so the gun’s safety was set and it was put back in my backpack. When I get home I always unload my gun and make sure there isn’t a round in the tube, but the gun was jammed and the round would not come out of the pistol. Now this is a pretty big gun, it’s a 1911 Sig Sauer .45, I’ve only run one clip through it, so it’s not beat up or anything, it’s a brand new gun.”
Handing someone a loaded gun at the gym sounds a little sketchy. Probably enough to cause a gun safety expert to look up quizzically from his September issue of Field of Stream. But the story gets even more surreal.
“So, I go to taking it apart, keep in mind I’m more or less a life-long gun owner, it’s not like I’m a novice. I was sitting down and putting together my UFC contract, putting the pages in order. I was watching The Bachelor (laughs) and I was eating blueberries, so I wasn’t fully concentrating on taking the gun apart like I should’ve been. So, when I took the gun apart the hammer was back, I had it on safety but for some reason my finger must’ve touched the trigger. The pistol was stuck so I had to pull on it in both directions with my hands. My hand was over the barrel, so the parts didn’t fall all over when I removed the slide. While I was trying to get the pistol apart it fired.”
Joe’s unprepared psyche shifted from televised romance to bloodshed in an instant, and he panicked.
“I got up for some reason I was running around the house like a f***ing idiot, I was naked and with every heartbeat blood was spurting out of my leg. I must’ve been in shock because I actually sat on the couch thinking I could get it under control. As I sat there the blood was coming out of my leg with enough force to hit me in my face. It finally dawned on me that I had to wake my wife up, so I get up and open the door and I say, ‘Lisa wake up, I just shot myself call 911,’ and at that point I collapsed.”
Absurdities aside, the experience was terrible. Riggs truly believed he was about to die, and even said goodbye to his son.
“I was lying on the floor, and I had lost a lot of blood. The pain was gone and I started just wanting to go to sleep. That’s what happens when you’re dying, you just want to sleep. My wife, Lisa, pretty much had her fist in the hole in my leg trying to get the bleeding to stop. She (Lisa) was actually trying to get in there and pinch off the artery. At this point I didn’t think I was dying, I knew I was dying, I had accepted it.”
He continued, “I asked Lisa to wake our son up so I could say goodbye to him. I was eerily calm, it was very weird. My son came out, now I feel horrible because of what he had to see. I was covered in blood, and my seven year old son sits down next to me. I gave him a hug. I told him that I was dying, but that I was proud of him and that I would always love him, and that I would always be with him. I can’t even imagine processing something like that at that age. He sat and watched the entire thing for over twenty minutes. He was there while the EMTs were working on me and he is up on the couch pulling his hair out. It was a f***ed up thing man, it was horrible.” According to Riggs, his son is suffering from post-traumatic stress.
It is difficult to square the strange explanation of what happened with the reality that the event profoundly affected Riggs and his family. Regardless of the cause, the focus should probably transition to his recovery, which appears to be going well. Joe ran seven miles the day he provided the interview. “I know it’s crazy because there was a hole blown in my leg a month ago, but yes I’m already running.”
Despite his worry that Joe Silva would deem him perpetually unreliable as a result of the incident, the UFC is prepared to announce his new opponent as soon as he is medically cleared. He’ll receive an update from his physician today. And he doesn’t care which oppponent they choose, because nobody on the roster is as imposing as a shot to the femoral artery.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Because once you come as close to dying as I have, what is there to be afraid of? There’s nothing.”