UFC vet Matt Riddle among dozens cut by the WWE
Big corporate moves, like the ones it took to form TKO by merging the UFC and the WWE always have casualties. In this case dozens of sports entertainers lost their gigs with the WWE and NXT in the aftermath of then-UFC parent company Endeavor acquiring the promotion.
The next step was spinning it off alongside the UFC into a new publicly-traded company called TKO.
One of those corporate casualties was UFC and The Ultimate Fighter veteran Matt Riddle. Riddle fought nearly his entire professional career for the UFC, going 7-3 with 2NC in the Octagon. Both no-contest rulings came as a result of Riddle failing drug tests for cannabis. More on that below.
Riddle signed with Bellator MMA following his 2013 exit from the UFC. He never fought for that promotion though, retiring from MMA citing financial difficulties after an injury delayed his Bellator debut. He did manage one bout with Titan FC before beginning his professional wrestling career.
From 2014 to 2018, Riddle sports-entertained on the indy circuit before making the big show with the WWE in late 2018. During his time with the WWE he worked his way up from NXT to Raw in 2020. Controversy dogged Riddle for his entire WWE run. More on that below as well.
Ex-WWE star Matt Riddle reportedly in talks with PFL & BKFC
Riddle’s tenure in the WWE was dogged by controversy and allegations. Most recently there was an apparently drunken fiasco at JFK airport that saw Riddle accuse airport police of sexual assault after being prevented from boarding a flight.
Here’s video of that incident.
More serious allegations about Riddle were also a feature of his WWE and indie career. In 2020 indie wrestler Candy Cartwright accused him of sexual assault on Twitter. Cartwright dropped her lawsuit against Riddle in 2021.
In 2022, Riddle took some time off from WWE to go to rehab and Cageside Seats summed up some of his difficulties with this action-packed paragraph:
“This week has also seen adult film actress Jordan Maxx tweeting about her relationship with the former United States champion, alleging drug use (and seeming to confirm that he’s in rehab) and infidelity. Another entertainer Riddle had been linked with, Ivy Malibu, shared statements about a failed romance with a “not good person” after she was mentioned in stories & posts about Riddle. And Daniella Petrow, who was with Riddle earlier this year, tweeted videos reiterating past allegations of inappropriate behavior & sexual abuse, and calling on WWE to fire him.”
So it may be that Riddle is persona non grata in pro wrestling given these incidents and accusations.
But if Riddle’s conduct is a potential concern to the wrestling promoters out there, it doesn’t seem like the combat sports industry is quite so concerned. At least that’s according to a report from Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.
That newsletter is subscription-only so here’s a tweet from Wrestle Purists summarizing Meltzer’s report.
I guess PFL really needs some known names for their Superfight PPV series.
Matt Riddle’s inglorious exit from the UFC
This isn’t the first time that Riddle has had to make a dramatic career change after getting the boot from a promotion..
Back in 2013, Riddle saw his second UFC win overturned in less than a year due to drug test failures for marijuana. Restrictions for cannabis products have changed a lot in the years since then, but at the time, Riddle’s conduct was enough to put him firmly on Dana White’s bad side.
“The reason he’s not in the UFC anymore is because he could not pass a drugs test,” Dana White told reporters following Riddle’s release. “You’re so weak minded and so addicted to marijuana that you couldn’t stay off it enough to pass a drugs test three times a year. This is the guy, Matt Riddle, who did an interview and said ‘I smoke Marijuana so I don’t beat my wife and children’.”
Those failed drug tests — for a substance with no performance-enhancing qualities — led directly to Riddle being cut from the UFC. As his Wikipedia entry sadly notes, “He had finished his UFC career ranked 3rd in UFC history for takedown defense (89.3%) and 8th for the total of strikes that have been landed (1350), and without positive marijuana tests would have held an octagon record of 10–3 with a streak of five consecutive victories.”
We don’t know what the future holds for Riddle, but it just might involve learning to fight for real again.
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