It has been eight years since Joe Riggs and Nick Diaz fought at UFC 57 and infamously continued their brawl at the hospital after the event. But no hatchets have been buried here. Riggs doesn’t feel any differently about Diaz than he did on that February 2006 night.
"Something is wrong with him," Riggs told FOX Sports. "He’s like a Neanderthal. Something is off with him."
Both men were eventually released after that ugly incident. But now they’re both back in the UFC. And Riggs expects to be standing across from Diaz again at some point — whether it’s in the Octagon or in some a parking lot somewhere.
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"We’ll fight again one or way another," Riggs said.
The two almost continued their rivalry in 2009 — at 30,000 feet. Riggs said he and Diaz ended up on the same plane after a Strikeforce card in which Riggs beat Phil Baroni and Diaz defeated Scott Smith.
Diaz and his team were mean-mugging Riggs from across the airport, Riggs said, and Riggs was with his wife. Riggs said he was worried when his wife went to the bathroom on the plane that one of them might have started something.
We’ll fight again one or way another.
-Joe Riggs on Nick Diaz
"I was thanking God that nothing happened," Riggs said. "If he said something to my wife, I can’t take that."
Riggs (40-14, 1 NC) will make his UFC return against Ben Saunders at UFC Fight Night on FOX on Dec. 13 in his hometown of Phoenix. The 32-year-old veteran has kicked around in organizations like Rage in the Cage, Ironman MMA, King of the Cage and Wreck MMA after departing from the UFC. But after winning six straight, including Bellator MMA’s FightMaster reality show final, Riggs is back in the big show.
That comeback was nearly upended when Riggs shot himself in the hand and leg accidentally while trying to fix his gun in August. But miraculously he’s fully healed from those injuries and will be good to go Dec. 13.
After the Saunders fight, Riggs would have no problem getting in there with Diaz again. Diaz meets Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 183 on Jan. 31.
"Usually, I don’t fight people I have beaten," Riggs said. "Nick Diaz, I’d just fight again. … I’d whoop his ass again. He’s not a smooth, polished boxer like me. He has no footwork. He’s a tough guy, he comes forward and throws a lot of punches. He has good submissions. But he’s not as good of a boxer as I am."
Riggs doesn’t really care about getting closure from that crazy night in a Las Vegas hospital. But punching Diaz in the face again would please him.
"I never expected someone to hit me in the hospital, especially two prize fighters in the hospital like that," Riggs said. "Even when we were jawing back and forth, it didn’t cross my mind. Then he crossed the line and we started going at it."