UFC fighter turned indie pro wrestler Matthew Riddle has a great story of rising from the ashes. After a promising start in the UFC, he ended up getting fired over two marijuana offenses back when smoking a joint within six weeks of a fight could result in a positive test. After issues getting regular fights in other leagues, he left the sport to pursue pro wrestling and now has a pretty big fanbase on the indy circuit where his charismatic DudeBro shtick gets him over pretty much anywhere in the world.
Not many people can successfully transition from one sport to the other, so what made Riddle think he could pull it off? Matt explained how the switch went down on the latest episode of The MMA Hour.
“You know it came to my mind pretty quick, but i didn’t go right after it because I had built up such a career and reputation in MMA that I wanted to continue to pursue it, you know?” Riddle said. “To go that far and just let it go to pursue another sport, I didn’t want to do that right away. And then just dealing with Bellator and Legacy and Titan at the end, I felt like fights just kept falling out, injuries kept happening, the weight cut was just getting to me, I was a really big welterweight and that was where everyone wanted me to fight at.”
“And just too many things like that happened where I was like ‘You know what, I just have to give pro wrestling a try. I have to give this a shot, I’ll hate myself if I don’t.’ And MMA, even though I put all this time into it, isn’t just paying me back the way it should be. And maybe I sound spoiled in that sense, but I did start off in the UFC and did start off getting paid a decent amount, at least. Which still isn’t that much but was decent for a pro MMA fighter at the time. Even now it’s hard to make money in professional MMA.”
So how’s the money in pro wrestling outside the WWE? Does Riddle make more than he did back in his MMA days?
“You know what, I am on the steady,” he revealed. “In the sense that the UFC was great when you would fight, but I only fought three times a year max and when you only make money that often, you have gaps. So there might be a couple of weeks or a month where you can’t pay bills and accumulate debt, and when I fight I get money but I have to pay everything back. I feel like right now I’m doing very well. I don’t want to be like I’m killing it, but I’m doing extremely well. I’m doing better than I was when I was fighting MMA, for sure. And that’s only on an indy level. From merchandise to booking fees to everything else, I have my own website, I do extremely well all the time.”
The whole arrangement with pro wrestling seems to suit him much better than MMA ever did. He gets to be the person he wants to be and work with whatever promotions he chooses (rather being stuck with that cold blooded asshole Dana White). Plus no drug tests! It’s no wonder he’s such a chill bro these days.
“I’m really happy!” Matt declared. “I wrestle all the time, I’m wrestling 4 times a week, before I was fighting three times a year. So I get to entertain and be in front of a crowd at least three to four times a week. I make good money, I get to see my family. It’s good!”