After eight years haunting the MMA landscape like a disembodied ghost of MMA past, Joe “Diesel” Riggs is returning to the UFC. And he’ll be doing it in Brazil, where the cost of diesel gasoline has almost doubled since his last UFC fight. He’ll be stepping into the Octagon on September 13th.
Riggs has won six consecutive “official” professional fights since November, 2011. But he became a household man-cave name again when he won the first season of Bellator’s “Fight Master” series last November. His official record doesn’t include the four “exhibition” wins on his way to the Fight Master finale against Mike Bronzoulis. With the exception of a first round heel hook submission in his first fight, all his Fight Master matches ended in decision victories. It is unclear if that had anything to do with being under the guidance of Coach Greg Jackson.
Joe’s opponent is native Brazilian Paulo Thiago, a black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, who has had six losses in his last eight fights. His most recent was a decision loss against Gasan Umalatov in May. Four of his last eight fights took place in Brazil, and he won two of those. He lost his fights in the Unites States, Canada, Sweden and China. Thiago is a man of the world, but he clearly prefers being a homebody.
So after a career that began at heavyweight, Riggs seems to have settled into his perfect weight, he is on a wicked 10-win streak, the tattoo is still in full effect, and Thiago has been in the MMA doldrums for almost half a decade.
It’s 5,000 miles to Brazil, he’s got a full tank of diesel gas, a welterweight six pack, and given his recent history of avoiding punishment, he’s unlikely to be wearing sunglasses at the post-fight press conference.