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Matt Riddle: From UFC Star to WWE Champion
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Matt Riddle, born Matthew Frederick Riddle on January 14, 1986, is an American professional wrestler and former mixed martial artist known for his dynamic in-ring style and laid-back persona. Riddle gained prominence in the UFC before transitioning to professional wrestling, where he achieved significant success in WWE, including winning the United States Championship and Raw Tag Team Titles, and continues to compete in Major League Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

 

Riddle's Early Life and Education

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Matthew Fredrick Riddle, born on January 14, 1986, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, spent his formative years in Saratoga Springs, New York. He attended Saratoga Springs High School, where he excelled in wrestling, becoming a New York state wrestling champion in 2004 and defeating future UFC champion Jon Jones twice in high school matches. Riddle's wrestling prowess earned him a scholarship to East Stroudsburg University, where he continued to compete at a high level. However, his collegiate wrestling career was cut short when his head coach was fired, resulting in the loss of his scholarship. This pivotal moment led Riddle to transition into mixed martial arts (MMA), setting the stage for his future career in combat sports.
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Riddle's MMA Journey: Debuting on SpikeTV's The Ultimate Fighter 7 in 2008

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Riddle's mixed martial arts (MMA) career began in 2008 when he appeared on SpikeTV's The Ultimate Fighter 7. He quickly made a name for himself by knocking out Dan Simmler in the opening elimination round, a knockout that Dana White called the most violent in the show's history. Riddle was selected as the second overall pick for Team Rampage, but his journey in the tournament ended when he lost to Tim Credeur via armbar in the second round. Despite this setback, Riddle made his professional debut at The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale, defeating Dante Rivera by unanimous decision. He continued to compete in the UFC, achieving a four-fight winning streak with victories over Steve Bruno, Dan Cramer, Greg Soto, and DaMarques Johnson. However, his career faced challenges due to positive tests for marijuana, which led to two of his victories being overturned to 'no contests' and ultimately his release from the UFC in 2013. Riddle's MMA record stands at 8-3 (2), showcasing his skills in both striking and grappling. He held the third-highest takedown defense in UFC history at 89.3% and ranked eighth for the most strikes landed with 1,350 strikes. After his release from the UFC, Riddle briefly signed with Legacy Fighting Championships and Bellator, but injuries and visa issues hindered his progress, leading him to transition to professional wrestling in 2014.
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Riddle's UFC Journey

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From UFC to Wrestling

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Riddle transitioned to professional wrestling in 2014, training at the Monster Factory and making his debut in February 2015. He quickly gained recognition on the independent circuit, capturing titles such as the Evolve Championship, WWN Championship, and PWG World Tag Team Championship with Jeff Cobb. His success led to accolades from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, naming him Rookie of the Year and Most Improved in 2016. Riddle's impressive performances on the independent scene paved the way for his signing with WWE in 2018, where he continued to build his reputation.
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From NXT Debut to TakeOver Victories: Riddle's Early WWE Impact

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Riddle signed with WWE in 2018, making his debut on the NXT brand. He quickly made an impact by defeating Kassius Ohno at TakeOver: WarGames II and Phoenix. Throughout 2019, Riddle pursued the NXT and North American Championships but was unsuccessful. He formed a tag team with Pete Dunne called "The BroserWeights," winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and the NXT Tag Team Championship at TakeOver: Portland. After losing the titles, Riddle had his final NXT match against Timothy Thatcher in a pit fight. In June 2020, Riddle moved to SmackDown and later to RAW during the Draft. He won the United States Championship from Bobby Lashley in February 2021 but lost it to Sheamus at WrestleMania 37. Riddle then formed a tag team with Randy Orton, known as "RK-Bro." The duo won the RAW Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam 2021 by defeating AJ Styles and Omos. They successfully defended their titles at Survivor Series against The Usos and regained the titles from The Alpha Academy in March 2022. RK-Bro's reign ended in a title unification match against The Usos, where Randy Orton suffered an injury. Riddle continued to feud with The Bloodline, even challenging Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship but was unsuccessful. He also participated in the Men's Money in the Bank ladder match, which was won by Theory. Riddle's feud with Seth Rollins led to a match at Clash at the Castle, which Rollins won. They later faced off in a Fight Pit Match at Extreme Rules, with UFC legend Daniel Cormier as the special referee. Riddle was suspended for 60 days for violating WWE's wellness policy but returned to assist Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn against The Bloodline after WrestleMania. He continued to feud with The Bloodline, culminating in a six-man tag team match at Backlash, which Riddle's team lost. Riddle announced his departure from WWE on September 22, 2023, ending his five-year tenure with the company.
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Riddle's Personal Struggles and Scandals

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Riddle's personal life has been marked by significant upheavals and controversies. He married Lisa Rennie in 2011, and the couple had three children together. However, their marriage ended in divorce in 2022, a period during which Riddle expressed deep emotional distress over being separated from his children. His personal struggles were further compounded by multiple failed drug tests for cocaine, which he openly admitted to, leading to his departure from WWE in 2023. Riddle's professional career has also been marred by controversies. He faced a sexual assault lawsuit filed by Candy Cartwright in 2020, which was later dropped in 2021. Additionally, he had a backstage altercation with Goldberg in 2019 and attended rehab after multiple wellness policy violations in December 2022. In September 2023, Riddle was reportedly intoxicated during an altercation with a police officer at JFK Airport, adding to his list of off-ring issues. Despite these challenges, Riddle has continued to pursue his wrestling career. He returned to the independent circuit and Major League Wrestling (MLW), where he has achieved notable success, including winning the MLW Battle Riot VI and defending his NJPW World Television Championship. His resilience and ability to bounce back from personal and professional setbacks highlight his enduring presence in the wrestling world.
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Recent Wrestling Triumphs

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In 2024, Riddle achieved significant milestones, including winning the MLW Battle Riot VI, which secured him a guaranteed MLW World Heavyweight Title match. He also defended his NJPW World Television Championship successfully against Bad Dude Tito and Kosei Fujita. Additionally, Riddle made notable appearances on the independent circuit, capturing the Combat 1 World Championship and participating in high-profile matches, such as teaming with Rob Van Dam and defeating America's Most Wanted. His continued success across various promotions highlights his versatility and resilience in the wrestling world.
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Closing Thoughts

Matt Riddle's journey through the world of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts has been marked by both triumphs and tribulations. After his departure from WWE in 2023, Riddle has continued to make waves in the wrestling community, showcasing his resilience and dedication to the sport. His recent achievements in Major League Wrestling (MLW) and various independent promotions underscore his versatility and commitment to his craft. Riddle's personal life has been tumultuous, with significant challenges including a public divorce and multiple failed drug tests. Despite these setbacks, he has remained focused on his career, participating in a 30-day drug rehabilitation program to address his issues and return to the ring with renewed vigor
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. His background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his experience as an independent wrestler have equipped him with a unique skill set that continues to captivate audiences. As Riddle navigates his post-WWE career, his ability to overcome personal and professional obstacles serves as a testament to his determination and passion for wrestling. His ongoing involvement in the sport, whether through high-profile matches or championship pursuits, highlights his enduring presence and influence in the wrestling world
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