MMA Lab’s John Crouch is Thrilled to See Joe Riggs’ Bellator Success After Vet Put Retirement on The Line
By Kelsey Mowatt
While there was no shortage of captivating storylines throughout Bellator’s 2013 campaign, one of the more intriguing came as a result of Joe Riggs, who went on to win the promotion’s “Fight Master” competition. Although Riggs had won five straight bouts before he agreed to participate in the reality show, the UFC vet had decided that if he didn’t win the tournament, he’d hang up the gloves. Thanks to wins over Eric Scallan, Evan Cutts, Cole Williams and most recently Mike Bronzoulis, few people are questioning where Riggs’ career is headed now.
Longtime observers of MMA know that at one point, Riggs was one of the UFC’s top welterweights, but personal issues and a battle with drug addiction eventually set back his career. The 31 year-old vet turned things around, however, and Riggs has been quick to credit the MMA Lab’s John Crouch for his recent successes.
“I really feel like we just do what we do, you know, but for him, it was great. The reality show was hard for him,” Crouch said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, while discussing Riggs and his “Fight Master” victory. “He’s a little bit older now, he’s got family at home, so it’s not like he’s a 20 year-old kid who’s just coming in and doesn’t care, blah, blah, blah.”
“He’s a man and he’s been through some hard times,” the MMA Lab coach furthered about Riggs, who had lost three straight bouts in 2011 before beginning his current run. “His family is really important to him.”
As a result of handing Bronzoulis a unanimous decision loss at Bellator 106 in November, Riggs secured an extra $100,000 for his family, and will compete in the promotion’s upcoming welterweight tourney. At Bellator 112 on March 14th, Riggs (40-14) will take on Sam Oropeza (10-2) in the tourney’s opening round.
“So I thought more than anything, just the culmination of that whole show, ending with him doing what he should have done, which is win, I thought it was awesome for him,” the BJJ black belt and instructor relayed. “Really, really impressive and he’s such a great guy.”
Riggs is but one of several well established fighters who trains out of the renowned Glendale gym, which is also home to the likes of Benson Henderson, John Moraga, Efrain Escudero and John Tuck among others.
“He’s a clown; Joe Riggs is one of the funniest human beings you’ll ever meet in your life,” Crouch added about the vet, who has also competed for Strikeforce and the WEC during his decade plus career. “So we’re excited for him because he’s such a good dude, and he helps everybody at the gym get ready for their fights. I was very happy for him.”
Bellator 112 will be hosted by the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana.
The card will feature welterweight champion Daniel Straus taking on former champ Pat Curran in the main event.