You can't fire Matt Riddle. Because Matt Riddle quits!
The always-candid former UFC welterweight, who was dropped from the promotion last week after testing positive for marijuana for the second time in his career, said he is looking into whether the drug test he submitted before his Feb. 16 decision victory over Che Mills was tainted.
Riddle also said he believes the UFC was actively looking to release him, and that he would probably not return to the promotion if it continued cutting fighters in part for unexciting (if not unsuccessful) performances.
Riddle, who has a permit from the Nevada government to legally use medical marijuana, told broadcaster Ariel Helwani Monday on The MMA Hour that his drug test yielded some unexpected results.
"I find the test a little fishy," Riddle said. "[The test showed] that there was creatine in my system. I haven’t taken creatine since I was 16."
Riddle described what he called less-than-professional conditions for the test he submitted before facing Mills at UFC on Fuel 7, and told Helwani he planned to consult a doctor about the results and, potentially, a lawyer. Riddle added that attorneys have contacted him unsolicited to offer their services, though Riddle has, to this point, declined.
"I’m not going to say I was set up or anything like that, yet," Riddle said. "The state laws in Nevada say they can’t actually fire somebody for using medical marijuana…a lot of lawyers think I have a lawsuit for wrongful termination. But I’m not really trying to go that route."
The 27-year-old welterweight echoed a sentiment widely observed by fans and pundits in the wake of his release: that the UFC does not consistently enforce its drug-testing policy. He used heavyweight slugger and fellow two-time marijuana test failer Dave Herman as an example.
"[Herman] gets knocked out like three times in a row, fails two drug tests for weed and he’s still in the UFC," Riddle said. "I think that’s very hypocritical."
But Riddle wasn't done, blasting the UFC's recent business decisions, which he indicated were perhaps unhealthy for MMA's long-term growth. Six days before releasing Riddle, the UFC caused a stir when it cut 16 fighters, including welterweight Jon Fitch, an elite competitor but one whose grinding style fans often consider boring.
Formerly a full-on brawler who found mixed results, Riddle has of late become simultaneously more technical and effective—and, arguably, less of a crowd pleaser in the cage. As a result, Riddle said Monday he suspects the UFC was "just looking for a reason to get rid of me." He even went so far as to say that if the UFC continues cutting stylistically unpalatable fighters, he would turn down an offer to return to the promotion.
"What I see happening is a year or two from now the UFC calls me back after I’ve won probably like five or six fights, hopefully," Riddle said. "And I’ll probably at that time just say no, because I really don’t like the direction they’re taking the company. They’re firing high-level talent so they can have lower-level talent just scrap."
Though Riddle had plenty of mental ammunition for the UFC, he also seemed genuinely optimistic about the next stage of his career. Riddle said he is in talks with one of the promotions that air on cable network AXS TV, the current home of BAMMA, Legacy FC, XFC and Resurrection Fighting Alliance. He expects to fight in the next two months, possibly in April.
Riddle (7-3-2) has not lost since September 2011. If not for the two failed drug tests, he would be on a four-fight winning streak. Riddle, who appeared on season seven of The Ultimate Fighter and then moved straight to the UFC without previously working his way up through the sport's minor leagues, said he was looking forward to his time on the indie circuit.
"I want to beat up a couple cans," he joked. "It would be nice to fight some guys with, like, a 5-2 record."