Former WWE Tough Enough star Jeremiah Riggs will make his return to the cage March 16th in Bossier City, Louisiana at Bellator 61. This will be Riggs second time fighting for the promotion and will mark the first time he has competed in MMA since he finished third on the hit WWE reality show. “Big Rig” will face undefeated Trey Houston on the card.
“I’m excited,” exclaimed Riggs. “I fought for Bellator in 2010 and won a big fight in Louisville on their undercard. My management team has been talking to them and we think it’s a good fit for me. Bellator is doing big things and they have been aggressive in signing some of the big names in the sport like some of my old teammates like Jon Madsen. One of my best friends, Brian Foster signed with them last year and that got me really pumped up to get back in there. I’ll be at Fiore’s MMA getting the band back together. I’ve been itching to punch someone in the mouth and next month I finally get to do it. Bellator is blowing up and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Riggs’ return fight won’t be easy. He will take on 9-0 Trey Houston at the event. And with a year of ring rust it’s going to be a tough fight for the former Ultimate Fighter star.
“I know Trey is a tough dude. I’ve watched some tape on him and I’ve seen what he can do. He has heavy hands and is pretty good on the ground too. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight when you combine both of our styles. The last time I fought for Bellator I was told that my fight was one of the most exciting on the card and that’s what I want to do is put on a show and entertain the fans.”
“I know I have a lot of eyes on me since I was on Tough Enough and that’s fine. I’ve been training, working out and lifting. I’m never out of shape. You have to remember that before I went to film the show I had won five straight fights and turned down an opportunity to fight again for Strikeforce to go to California to film with Steve Austin.”
Even though he didn’t win the WWE contract last year Riggs did have an opportunity to go train with FCW, the WWE’s minor league to be evaluated by the promotion. After a notorious incident with Dusty Rhodes and some of the trainers in Tampa Riggs wasn’t offered a spot on the FCW or WWE roster.
“FCW is what it was,” said Riggs. “There were a lot of guys with the same look doing the same stuff trying to kiss ass and get ahead. That’s not me. Some of the guys told me they thought it was great because I was myself and I didn’t sell out or kiss ass. I have nothing but respect for Dusty or Bill (Demott) but I’m not a yes man. I will do whatever is asked of me and give it 100% but I don’t do politics. What you see is what you get. A lot of that stuff with Bill and Dusty was blown out of proportion but it was all business. I have nothing against either of them personally. If I saw them today I’d walk up to them and shake their hand and say what’s up. I never want to burn any bridges. Those two guys have done so much in pro wrestling and been around a long time. I’m just a kid from Mississippi. I learned a lot from Bill and I hate that a lot of people think we are enemies or don’t like each other because of FCW. That’s not the case. I want to squash that once and for all. Bill may have some hard feelings because of what I said a while back and that’s my fault. I was aggravated with the system but that’s on me not him. Bill and Dutch Mantell are the two guys I look up to the most in pro wrestling.”
“I’ve been approached by a few wrestling promoters about coming in and doing some stuff. My manager even met with TNA several times but in the end politics won out. Am I blackballed in wrestling because of FCW? Probably, but it’s all good. I enjoyed wrestling but I’m not a wrestler. I’m a professional athlete. I’m also a mixed martial artist. I’m thankful that Sam and Zack at Bellator think enough of me to offer me an opportunity with them. 2012 is going to be a big year for me and this is only the beginning.”
With a little fame comes fans and with fans also comes haters. But Riggs wants people to know that despite the reality shows he wants to have fun and give back.
“Some people love me, some people hate me. I just want to have fun. I’ve been blessed with a great family and some wonderful opportunities and I’m giving back. I really hadn’t said much about it but I’m involved with Jacob’s Ladder back home in Vicksburg. I’ve helped raise money for them in the past but with this fight I’m donating a percentage of my purse and sponsors. They are some really cool kids and I enjoy spending time with them. I really hope we can do something good for them. They really deserve it. If you’d like to donate something please give them a call at (601) 619-7002.”
“Check me out on Twitter. It’s @jeremiahriggs and I try to keep in touch with everyone on there. I stay pretty busy but I do my best to keep people updated on there.”