Inside Fights Interview: Joe “The Diesel” Riggs

Between January of 2008 and November of that same year, Joe “Diesel” Riggs strung together a streak of eight straight victories.

However, since that streak, the once dominant Riggs could only muster a rather unimpressive record of 8-6.

Riggs feels that all of that is about to change.

Just moments into the second round, Riggs was able to end his fight against Luke Stewart with a devastating flurry of punches, walking away with a technical knockout. This may seem like just another victory, but this victory symbolizes something else for “The Diesel”.

With his most recent victory, Riggs feels he will be able to launch another dynamic winning streak. However, nothing comes easy in MMA. The same can be said for acquiring a victory over Phil Baroni.

Riggs is set to face Baroni at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields on June 6th. While Baroni may be a daunting opponent to most, Riggs believes that this is where the winning streak begins.

“The last fight was the first one, and I am going to beat the piss out of Bironi June 6th, and make it number two,” stated Joe Riggs on his future opponent’s fate and the beginning of another dominant run for him in MMA.

Riggs is not a stranger to “beating the piss out of” his opponent. With thirteen victories coming from knockout, it is no surprise how he sees himself gaining his 30th victory. 

 “I am going to knock Phil Baroni out,” stated Riggs.

With heavy hands and unrivaled confidence, it is hard to argue with him.

The experience he brings into this fight also strengthens his case.

At the age of 26, Riggs brings the experience that 39 fights can offer, 13 more fights than his opponent Baroni. Riggs also brings in 29 victories, a monstrous amount when compared to Baroni’s mere 13 win.

However, numbers are just that in MMA, numbers. It is often said that anything can happen inside the octagon, but Joe Riggs was kind enough to explain why the number comparison is not the only area he holds the advantage in. He was kind enough to explain why he is a better fighter than Phil Baroni.

“He’s got one thing that he does; he punches and that’s about it. I got a lot of different weapons that he doesn’t. I got my knees, my kicks, my hands, my takedowns,” explained the confident Riggs. “He’s got takedowns too, but he tends to take people down and lay on them. I take people down and put their face through the ground. I’m not planning on taking him down or anything, but if he tries to take me down, I want to put him on his back. If he’s on his back, he is going to get the hell beat out of him.”

This explanation continues to show the confidence Joe Riggs brings into his next bout. However, his knees, his kicks, his hands, and his takedowns are just the skills needed to accompany that confidence on June 6th.

Airing this Saturday on Showtime, Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields will feature a welterweight battle between Phil Baroni and Joe Riggs. As stated before, Riggs brings confidence and an impressive skill set into the bout.

As far as Riggs is concerned, that will be enough to launch yet another successful winning streak, and being the rise in the ranks of mixed martial arts.

Joe Riggs was kind enough to sit down with Inside Fights prior to his upcoming bout with Phil Baroni. The full interview transcript is available below. If you are wondering what weight class Riggs is most comfortable in, what belt meant the most to him, or his look back at that historic hospital fight with Nick Diaz, continue reading below. Thank You!

 

 

Nate Lawson: You lost via TKO to Kazuo Misaki in September of 2008. Just two months later you defeated Luke Stewart in a dominant second round. Could you walk me through the fight? What are your thoughts on the bout?

Joe Riggs: The Luke Stewart one? I came right out and through a straight right hand and broke it in the first ten seconds of the fight. You know, it’s hard to continue. I broke it and he ended up taking me down because I couldn’t defend the takedown because my hand was broken. I was just waiting for it to numb up.

After the first round was over, my corner said just wait, just hold on until your hand numbs up and you will be alright. Sure enough it did, and I ended up knocking him out with it in the second round. It was a tough fight. It would have been a lot easier if my hand wouldn’t have been broken.

Nate Lawson: What realizations did you gain from your fight with Stewart? What improvements did you realize you had to make from this fight? Takedown defense or anything?

Joe Riggs: No, God no. My takedown defense is fine. The reason why Stewart was able to take me dow is because  he was able to do double underhooks on me, and I could not fight the underhooks with a broken hand. I mean I couldn’t. My one hand was obsolete. It was worthless. Until it numbed up, I couldn’t do anything with it. It was bad, so until it numbed up, I couldn’t even defend myself. I had to get reconstructive surgery on it after the fight.

Nate Lawson: At one point in your career you won eight straight fights. Since then, your largest winning streak is just two wins. Do you think this victory over Stewart is the start of another dominant streak for Joe Riggs?

Joe Riggs: Yeah, yeah I do. I think it is. I want to keep more active like I used to be, but injuries have kept me back, and I haven’t been able to fight as much as I wanted to. Definitely, I want to fight a lot now. The last fight was the first one, and I am going to beat the piss out of Bironi June 6th, and make it number two. So, I’m excited.

Nate Lawson: Will this potential winning streak come about in Strikeforce? Do you feel at home with the Strikeforce organization?

Joe Riggs: I do, I do. I hear they are going to come to my hometown in Phoenix as well, so I can’t wait for that. That’s very exciting. I want them to do that, and main event, if I have Jake Shields, that would be fantastic. That’s my dream. So if that happens, that’s beautiful.

Nate Lawson: You have fought in several different organizations, now finding yourself in Strikeforce. What organization have you enjoyed fighting in most? What organization has treated you the best?

Joe Riggs: It’s hard to say. It’s between UFC and Strikeforce. UFC treated me well, and so has Strikeforce. Strikeforce I guess is my next show. And Elite XC, since they signed with Strikeforce and Showtime, so it’s kind of the exact same thing. It’s a real bump up in level and professionalism and everything else. It’s going to be something very cool. I am happy with Strikeforce. I don’t want to downgrade the UFC, but I’m happy with Strikeforce right now.

Nate Lawson: Not only have you fought in many different organizations, you have also fought in four different weight classes. Are you most comfortable in welterweight, or is there a different class that you are more comfortable in?

Joe Riggs: I’m good doing welterweight. It’s easy to make the weight class, and it’s easy to cut the weight. I’m a bigger man at welterweight, so that’s where I feel the most comfortable, and that’s where I’m going to stay.

Nate Lawson: You have also won several championships, including the Rage in the Cage Middleweight and Heavyweight championship, along with championships in Evolution Combat and Art of War to name a few.

Joe Riggs: I was WEC champ as well.  

Nate Lawson: I was just listing a couple of them, but I knew the WEC. Is there a specific title that has meant the most to you?

Joe Riggs: Yeah, being the WEC champ is probably the biggest championship I ever had. After I smash Phil Baroni’s face, I am going to get the title fight for Jake Shields, and that’s really recognized as one of the biggest titles in the world of MMA right now. So that’s the title that is going to me the most.

Nate Lawson: So Strikeforce welterweight title your main goal at this point then?

Joe Riggs: That’s right.

Nate Lawson: Your next step in Strikeforce is welterweight Phil Baroni on June 6, 2009. What are your thoughts on your opponent?

Joe Riggs: He’s a tough guy. He’s got one thing that he does; he punches and that’s about it. I got a lot of different weapons that he doesn’t. He has one weapon, a left hook and a right hand, and that’s all he’s got. I got my knees, my kicks, my hands, my takedowns. He’s got takedowns too, but he tends to take people down and lay on them. I take people down and put their face through the ground. I’m not planning on taking him down or anything, but if he tries to take me down, I want to put him on his back. If he’s on his back, he is going to get the hell beat out of him.

It’s going to be bad. He doesn’t have five or six different tools. He has one. Do the math. He doesn’t have too good of a chance to win.

Nate Lawson: You said you were going to knock out Luke Stewart. What plans do you have in store for Phil Baroni?

Joe Riggs: I am going to knock Phil Baroni out, just like I knocked Luke Stewart out.

Nate Lawson: You are still very young for the amount of fights you have had, only 26 years old. What does the future hold for Joe Riggs in MMA?

Joe Riggs: Sky’s the limit man. Like you said, I’m 26, and I have 45,  50 fights. As you can see I’m not punch drunk, unlike Phil. You can’t understand a word Phil says. I’m perfect. I’m articulate and I can speak. My wife comes to me and tells me,”I’m starting not to hear you as well, da-da-da-da-da, well quit.”  But other than that, I feel great. I want to win as many belts in as many organizations as I possibly can.

Nate Lawson: How long do you want your career to go for? Are there any goals you need to fulfill to consider your career a success?

Joe Riggs: Yeah, I want at least three world championships. I already got WEC down. I’m not saying UFC or anywhere else. I want to win the most world titles that I possibly can. That’s the main thing. I want to look back on something I can show my grandkids and they can be proud of.

Nate Lawson: This goes back in the past a bit, but I just wanted to touch base on this. You were once addicted to painkillers, but are now clean. How difficult was that time of your life for you? How did that situation help you grow as a person and as a fighter?

Joe Riggs: It didn’t really help me grow as a fighter too much, but it helped me grow as a person. You know I overcome different things other than fighting. That was a hard time to go through. Anybody who has ever went through that in life, that’s tough man. I know Karo is struggling with it a little bit, and he’s a good guy. It doesn’t pick people that are shitty people, or are good people. It just picks people. You know, just random people, and Karo has to be one of them. But that was a thing to overcome, and I was lucky to be able to escape out of there and still have my career intact. It’s a dangerous game. I just want to let people know about that.

Nate Lawson: Now I have to go back in your career several years again. You defeated Nick Diaz via unanimous decision in a UFC bout. You dominated him in the octagon. However, I’m curious. I just have to ask. Did you brutalize him more inside the octagon, or inside that Las Vegas hospital?

Joe Riggs: It wasn’t too much of a fight inside the hospital. He actually did hit me, and I dropped to my knees in the hospital. But then I got up, and we were running around. We were like over and under hooks, and we were rabbit punching each other in the back of the head. He was like toe-stomping me, trying to bite me, and I was worried more about my IV coming out to be honest with you. It was weird, but it turned out alright.

Nate Lawson: Well that is all I have for you. Is there anything you would like to add about your upcoming fight? Anyone you would like to thank?

Joe Riggs: All the people at Arizona Combat Sports, and been paying me, just thank you. And watching me knock Phil Baroni’s ass the fuck out. I’m guaranteeing it.

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