Joe Riggs Accidentally Shoots Himself, Out of Fight with Paulo Thiago

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2014

USA Today

Joe Riggs' resurgence from small-show journeyman to legitimate welterweight over the last three years has been one of the greatest unsung stories in MMA.

While he won Bellator's Fight Master series in 2013 and was poised to return to the UFC after more than eight years outside the world's biggest mixed martial arts promotion, his scheduled comeback fight with Paulo Thiago has been scrapped after Riggs suffered accidental gunshot wounds to his hand and leg.

The news was first reported on

We were made aware that newly-signed UFC competitor Joe Riggs was involved in an unfortunate accident last night. While cleaning his permitted firearm (a pistol), the gun discharged, injuring his hand and upper thigh. Riggs was transported to a nearby hospital in Arizona where he is being treated by physicians. We wish Joe a speedy recovery.

According to's Brett Okamoto, Riggs is otherwise fine, and his injuries are not life-threatening.

Naturally, witticisms were exchanged in the immediate aftermath on Twitter:

Poor Joe Riggs. This is exactly why I refuse to clean anything, ever.

— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) July 29, 2014

Riggs was released from the UFC in 2006 following a 2-3 stretch that included wins over Nick Diaz and Jason Von Flue and losses to Matt Hughes, Mike Swick and Diego Sanchez. From there, he split time between Strikeforce and regional shows until 2010, when he requested his release from the now-defunct promotion. 

Eventually, Riggs joined the prominent MMA Lab gym, home to former UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson, and rattled off five straight wins. He parlayed that success into a spot on Bellator's Fight Master reality show, which he won in November 2013 by defeating Mike Bronzoulis.

While it seemed as though Riggs would be a steady presence in the promotion and was scheduled to compete in the Season 10 welterweight tournament, fans were surprised to learn that he was signed by the UFC last week.

Unfortunately, this accident is likely to shelve him for the foreseeable future. 

The UFC quickly replaced Riggs with Sean Spencer. Spencer will bring a 2-2 UFC record into his fight with Thiago, most recently losing to Alex Garcia at UFC 171 via split decision.