At the age of 27, Matthew Riddle has announced his retirement from the sport after just five years of active competition. The former UFC fighter and TUF alumni was cut from promotion after he failed two drug tests for marijuana.
He subsequently signed with Bellator, but broke a rib prior to his debut match. Bellator was unwilling to set him up with another fight any earlier than 2014, leading Riddle to announce that he would be unable to pay his bills in that case, and would be leaving the sport.
Surprisingly though, the former welterweight prospect has no qualms about getting out.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even that tough of a decision,” Riddle said in an interview with MMAjunkie.com.
“When Bellator bought out my contract they said, ‘We’re family, we take care of our own,’” he said. “But then I crack a rib two weeks out from a fight and ask for an extension, like Joe Warren got, and I get told no. Then I ask if I can fight before the end of the year and I get told no on that. I’ve got three kids, man. When they bought me out of the Legacy contract, that was back in May. They kept me on the bench from May until September. I got hurt for September and now they say they can’t get me a fight until January or February. The bottom line is, I’ve got a wife and three kids. I’ve got bills I have to pay.”
“[Bellator] knew that for a fact,” Riddle continued. “I said it to them [Monday]. I told them that if I couldn’t get a fight by the end of the year, I need to retire and get a full-time job. They were like, ‘Well, we can’t [get you a fight].’ Really? Viacom can’t? Bellator can’t? OK, I guess I need to retire then.”
Even when Riddle had a UFC contract, he didn’t feel it was worth the sacrifices. He made around $50,000 a year, which is certainly a respectable salary, but not enough in his mind to make up for time spent and injuries accrued.
“I’ve had multiple surgeries,” Riddle said. “I get cut open, I’m in pain, and I can’t even pay my f—ing bills. People know who I am and I’m on TV all the time, but I can’t pay my f—ing bills, so who cares? What kind of sport is this? What’s the point of being in it if you can’t even make money? Especially a sport where you get torn open, get brain damage and bleed? And then people give me s–t because I’d rather retire and get a real job. At least that way I’ll get a check every week and not worry about someone trying to cut my face open or knock my f—ing teeth out.”
“People think it’s for glory, but the glory isn’t there. I like to fight. That’s who I am. But getting stitches isn’t glorious. Not getting paid isn’t glorious. Watching other people drive Ferraris isn’t glorious. So f–k it. I don’t need it.
Riddle isn’t ruling out a possible come back, but for now, he’s just glad to be getting out.
“Maybe I will fight in a year or two,” he said. “But right now I’m so fed up with the people that run this sport, I don’t want anything to do with it.”