Former UFC star Matt Riddle recently revealed how he ended up moving down to the welterweight division during his UFC career.
Riddle first competed on The Ultimate Fighter reality show as a middleweight. While 185 pounds was still a difficult weight cut for him, he was able to make it. After losing one on the show but winning his finale fight, the UFC approached Riddle about dropping down to welterweight.
Initially, Riddle did not want to make the grueling cut down to 170 pounds. However, the UFC gave him an incentive – they offered Riddle some very tough potential middleweight matchups. The UFC asked if Riddle wanted to fight feared leglock specialist Rousimar Palhares or legendary fighter Dan Henderson in his next bout.
Faced with facing either a submission ace known for holding onto submissions too long or an iron-chinned knockout artist, Riddle felt overmatched. “I’m 22 years old. These guys are legends already,” Riddle admitted. Not wanting to fight veterans known for destroying opponents early in his UFC run, Riddle asked who the UFC would match him up with at welterweight.
The UFC told Riddle that if he dropped down, they would match him up with Steve Bruno, a less dangerous opponent than Palhares or Henderson. Seeing an easier path against less established competition, Riddle decided to go through the agony of cutting down to welterweight division.
While fighting at 170 was brutal on his body, Riddle saw it as the better strategic move compared to competing against legends like Palhares and Henderson so early in his UFC tenure. Self-preservation instinct drove Riddle’s decision more than a desire to cut down to welterweight.