Joe Riggs - MMA’s True Tough Man
Fighter in Focus by Ivan Spassov, Editor in Chief at FITE
The early days of MMA have produced some of the toughest fighters to ever enter the cage. I'm sure that when talking about these early days a lot of people have the bloody image of Joe "Daddy" Stevenson in his fight against BJ Penn or of the insane fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar that arguably put MMA out to the mainstream public.
It was a point in time where the fighting spirit and the will to just scrap were greater compared to strategy and gameplan. Fighters would bite down on their mouth piece and let fists fly.
With that said, here comes the man that we'll talk about today - Joe "Diesel" Riggs, as he truly embodies that fighting philosophy.
Joe Riggs has fought in most big MMA organizations of his time. His performances in WEC, UFC (on two separate runs) and Strikeforce are very memorable and I'm sure they've left great memories in the minds of all fight fans.
At a point in time where most of his contemporaries have either gone into retirement or have gone way underground with their careers, Joe Riggs is still going strong and proving that the old school tough guy mentality is not dead yet. On June 1st, at 1:30 PM Eastern Time, he'll try to make a mark on history by fighting for the M-1 Middleweight Title against the very dangerous Artem Frolov right here on FITE. And before this battle, I really want to reflect on what Joe Riggs really represents to me as a long time MMA fan.
To me Riggs always stood out as two things - a great, exciting and gritty scrapper on his feet and a powerhouse when it comes to grinding people down and pounding them out.
Starting initially at Heavyweight/Light Heavyweight, he'd beat his way into several submission wins due to punches. His UFC debut would be marked by a similar win as well, where he took Joe Doerksen clean out with elbows for a Submission win.
Throughout his career, he's proved that weight classes don't really bother him, as he's gone from Light Heavyweight, down to Middleweight, down to Welterweight and up all the way again and then back down.
He's shown that he's willing to take on any challenge at any given time.
That's one of the many reasons that I've come to expect action and excitement out of all of Joe Riggs' fights.
Throughout his long career, he's gained victories over long time fan favorites such as Chris Lytle, Phil Baroni, Kendall Grove (though he has lost to him as well) and a young Nick Diaz just to name a few. In recent years, making easy work of Cody McKenzie and Shonie Carter have helped Joe Riggs get back up to the top spot he's in now.
Even in defeat though, "Diesel" is still a very exciting fighter to watch. Despite coming up short, his fights with veteran and personal favorite of mine Mike "Quick" Swick, as well as legend Matt Hughes, crowd favorite Diego Sanchez and more recently Chris Camozzi, Joe Riggs was always interesting to observe.
An interesting thing to note however is that Riggs has not lost since the Chris Camozzi fight and that was way back in February 2016.
Ever since that fight, I've paid a close attention to how Joe would unfold his career from here on out.
Fresh off the loss, "Diesel" made quick work of Ultimate Fighter Alumni and fellow former UFC fighter Cody McKenzie as I mentioned above. I was expecting a win for Riggs here but what really got me excited was a glimpse of something I'd nearly forgotten. A glimpse of the Joe Riggs of old - the guy that would tap people out with punches. So was Cody McKenzie's fate. It would mark the first time "Diesel" had submitted someone with punches since 2010, where he did that to Louis Taylor.
His next two fights I got to watch soon after I began working at FITE as an Editor - his TKO win over Billy Martin at the great ICF 27 event and his TKO win over Jerome Jones at a personal favorite of mine at that particular time - WXC 68. Both fights were fast and proved that Riggs was still on for something big.
What followed was a successful (and ongoing) run in M-1 and a TKO win over veteran Shonie Carter.
Now, after his debut way back in 2001, Joe Riggs stands on the gates of becoming the Middleweight Champion of M-1 in what's surely going to be a very competitive fight against the young and very dangerous Artem Frolov.
At the gates of this opportunity, we have to look and see at Joe's relentless attitude. In all of his 65+ professional fights, he has rarely answered the judges' call, win or lose. All the while going against top quality opponents.
And if you're not convinced enough that Joe Riggs is one of the definitive tough guys out there, think of this … at this stage in his career, he's making a move into the ruthless and dangerous world of bare knuckle boxing! And what more definitive move in a sport to make then to grab a championship belt in your first match. That's exactly what he did in his outing against Christian Evans.
So with all of that being said - prestigious MMA title shot on the way, a championship belt and a career in bare knuckle boxing and a horde of fans backing him up, "Diesel" is still strong, still powerful and still ready to go.
To answer a question that I put in the beginning of this article … what does Joe Riggs represent to me as a fight fan?
Joe Riggs represents to me the never ending thirst for fighting, the warriors spirit and the will to always push forward.
He is the moving, punching and kicking embodiment of the old mentality - the fight is above everything. Leave it all out there, leave everything you've got and let the crowd remember you like the lion that you are.
To me he is simply Joe "Diesel" Riggs - MMA's true tough man.