Matt Riddle was a recent guest on Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia, and the NXT star says he can’t believe he had a career as a MMA fighter, but has no regrets because it ultimately put him in a good position in his life today.
Riddle talked about getting hooked on wrestling as a kid, noting that seeing Hulk Hogan versus The Giant [Paul Wight] in a Steel Cage match served as a jumping off point for him. Despite growing up as fan, Riddle’s road to professional wrestling wasn’t as clear, as he spent several years as a mixed martial arts fighter, coming up the ranks of UFC after appearing on The Ultimate Fighter. Riddle says it’s surprising to watch his old fights now because he can see how wreckless he was, but at the same time he appreciates what the sport did for him because it put him in the position he’s in today as a professional wrestler.
“I’ll be honest, I watch some of my old fights, and even when I watch fights now, I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ It’s—I can probably do it now, I was training before I came over here and I handled myself quite well. But at the same time, it’s very reckless,” Riddle said, “it’s dangerous, there’s reward at the end but there’s also a high level of risk. I watch it, and like you said, it makes me flinch sometimes. I remember when I was younger I was like, ‘Yeah, nobody can hurt me.’ And now I’m like, why was I so stupid? Then again, it helped me but myself in the position I’m in now. I don’t regret it, because I had a good career.”
When asked what the hardest part of getting used to professional wrestling is, Riddle said selling attacks is something that he’s needed to get used to. “From MMA to pro wrestling it would have to be selling. In MMA you get punched in your face and you go, ‘No, didn’t even faze me.’ But in pro wrestling,” Riddle said, “you’ve got to present it to the audience, the world. But that’s the biggest difference. For me, like I said, I’ve always been a fan, even when I would train MMA and stuff like that, I would play around, say if you get hit – I’ve been working on this for a while.”