UFC welterweight Matt Riddle has repositioned his sights from one British target to another.
For months, Riddle spoiled for a fight with slugger Dan Hardy. But after beating Che Mills Saturday in London to extend his unbeaten streak to four, Riddle chose to pursue the challenge of another English 170 pounder: rising prospect John Hathaway.
"I know [Hardy] was already talking about retirement," Riddle said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast, hosted by reporter Ariel Helwani. "It's not the first thing on my mind right now...Hathaway said he wanted to fight me, and I think that would be a good fight for me and I think it'd be exciting."
Riddle (8-3-1) said he doesn't believe Hardy will get past bruiser Matt Brown when the two tangle in April at UFC on Fox 7.
"I think Matt Brown will beat Dan Hardy. I think it's a bad matchup for him," Riddle said. "So if he loses that fight and I'm on a four-fight [unbeaten] streak, why would I want to fight Dan Hardy?"
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Riddle, who initially called out Hardy after an unpleasant run-in with British fans in Manchester, expressed disappointment leading into Saturday's event in London that the UFC had matched him with Mills instead of Hardy. During Monday's interview, he offered an olive branch to the UFC and matchmaker Joe Silva.
"If I offended Joe Silva, I apologize...I was a little upset because I assumed I'd get that matchup," Riddle said. "It's cool whoever they give me. I respect their decision. I'm just there to have fun and win fights."
Riddle defeated Mills Saturday by split decision, though the fact that even one judge saw the fight for Mills raised eyebrows given the thorough, if not especially spectacular, dominance Riddle displayed. Nevertheless, Riddle said he has come a long way since his 2008 stint on The Ultimate Fighter and would welcome a chance at a fellow up-and-comer like the 25-year-old Hathaway, who is 17-1 and riding a three-fight UFC win streak.
"I've been in the UFC for five years now, and you know, it was a rough five years, but I feel like I"m finally hitting my stride," Riddle said. "The fights just seem a lot easier now, and I'm having fun with it."