Matthew Riddle has wanted to fight a British fighter in Britain ever since some British fan spat on him. Che Mills is British. Sometimes dreams can come true in MMA, right?
Fight Breakdown – “Deep Waters” is the highest profile fighter in a situation that’s probably never going to happen again: he’s spent his entire professional career within the UFC. From showing he can hang with talented fighters on a season of TUF to moving to 170, Riddle is a well rounded fighter with a propensity to engage in crowd-pleasing brawls.
Riddle is a brawling type striker who relies on his wrestling to win rounds. He can stand and hang because he’s durable (read: he gets hit a lot but has a good chin) but when he gets in trouble, or it’s even, he’s a good enough wrestler to get the fight to the ground. He’s well-rounded and is an enormous welterweight; he started out at middleweight and 170 is a tough but manageable cut for him.
Mills was a good British prospect who was thrown to Rory MacDonald to savage for a couple rounds in Canada. He had just mercked Chris Cope out of the company, of course, and it could’ve been a real soul-snatching loss for him. It was a toss into much deeper waters than he’s ready for at this point and rebounded with a win over Duane Ludwig. Now he takes a smaller step forward with Riddle, who’s a tough but winnable fight for him.
Mills’ plan is to keep it standing and outwork Riddle on his feet. Riddle is a lesser version of Rory MacDonald in terms of size and style in that once Riddle gets the takedown Mills will have a similarly difficult time getting off his back. He can win this fight standing and Riddle will win if this becomes a wrestling match. So far Mills has shown that bigger wrestlers are a kryptonite to his game because he’s not good at getting off his back. He has to stay off his back and make this into a brawl; any other way and he’s probably looking at a loss.
Why it matters – Riddle’s on a three fight win streak and if he wins here we could be discussing him getting a Top 10 opponent. Riddle has always been about potential and how good he could be; he has to start turning that corner to become as good as he could be. Riddle’s career is at the point where his ceiling is coming into focus and a couple of wins after this and we could be discussing him for a title shot. “Deep Waters” has the personality to be a great draw, etc, and it’s now or never. He’s been around long enough now that we can see how good he could be. He could be a title contender; he has the athletic ability and skill set to be in the next wave of contenders for Georges St. Pierre. Whether or not he hits that ceiling is another and a win here is something that points in that general direction.
For Mills it’s a chance to prove why he was a great British prospect when they signed him. A loss here and the doubts will pop up about how good he actually is. Its one thing to destroy a guy from a weak season of TUF; losing to MacDonald in humiliating fashion and then getting an injury win over Duane Ludwig isn’t a brilliant start to a UFC career if you’re a prospect. Mills has the ability and looked to be another good prospect from the UK. A loss here and he’s potentially looking at fighting on the British circuit once again.
Prediction – Riddle