WWE's Matt Riddle misses MMA but also 'really glad to have that all behind me'

Matt Riddle is happy to be done with MMA, but the fighter-turned-professional-wrestler also has fond memories of his time in the sport now that he’s signed to WWE.

Riddle (8-3) was cut from the UFC in 2013 after he failed drug tests for marijuana on multiple occasions. He’s always felt the circumstances around his departure from the promotion were unjust. However, he’s managed to find tremendous success in another realm.

Over the past several years, Riddle has been sharpening his craft in the world of pro wrestling. He’s traveled the globe and competed for a long list of promotions, but just recently his career took the next step forward. Riddle signed with WWE and is soon set to begin his run with the juggernaut organization under its NXT umbrella.

Riddle, 32, said he has the utmost joy in what he does now and where his career is going. He said he would be lying if he didn’t have fond memories of being an MMA fighter, but he also has some unpleasant ones to even it out, as well.

“I do miss it,” Riddle told MMAjunkie Radio. “I watch the fights. I watched Tyron Woodley dominate this week. I feel bad for the fighters and I know exactly – things are a little different now – but I know my world when I was in MMA, everything was tough. Life was just so tough. Everything was a struggle. Bills were a struggle. Even when you’re on top in the UFC, you only get paid a couple times a year. I’m just really glad to have that all behind me and focus on my craft.”

Riddle wasn’t the first MMA fighter who has transitioned to pro wrestling, and he surely won’t be the last, either. The difference with the “King of Bros,” though, is that he’s taken to the transition as well as anyone ever has. He quickly took to the art of pro wrestling and has picked up a lot of traction for someone with limited time and experience in the field.

Making the switch isn’t as easy as it seems, though. The likes of Quinton Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Muhammad Lawal and more have tried and largely failed. Former UFC champ Ronda Rousey has succeeded thus far in her WWE run, and Riddle said there’s a lot that goes in to making it work.

“There’s a lot of people making the transition and doing it well,” Riddle said. “There are other guys that are doing great – and women – you’ve got Ronda and Shayna (Baszler), Jessamyn Duke. You’ve got Tom Lawlor, you’ve got me. There’s a lot of guys like ‘King Mo,’ for example, who is a big fan of professional wrestling, world-class fighter, world-class athlete, but I don’t think he’s the greatest pro wrestler. It’s more than moves and athleticism. It’s that charisma.”

Riddle said he never necessarily expected to hit his stride so quickly as a pro wrestler. He finds himself on the fast track to superstar status, though, and said the hard work acquired through the process of being an MMA fighter helped him with his new venture.

“Luckily for me, I just kept my nose down and kept working, kept grinding and basically became undeniable in this industry,” Riddle said. “I’ve been working pretty hard after my little run with the UFC and not having the greatest luck with stuff. Kind of found myself down and started pro wrestling about three years ago and it’s been awesome. Even before WWE it’s been pretty awesome.”

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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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