Facing ‘polar opposite’ in style, Brad Riddell sees ranked opponents being ‘a little nervous’ after UFC on ESPN 21


LAS VEGAS – Experienced striker Brad Riddell has drawn rave reviews thus far in the UFC for this standup skills, but he’s aiming to prove something more at UFC on ESPN 21.

Former professional kickboxer Riddell (9-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) takes on 2007 NCAA Division I wrestling champion Gregor Gillespie (13-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) at Saturday’s event at the UFC Apex. The night’s main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN2.

It’s an absolute clash of styles, and Riddell said he’s excited about the possibilities.

“We’re like polar opposites right? It’s like who gets to build off their skill first,” Riddell told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a Wednesday media day ahead of the event. “I think it’s far easier to learn how to get up and get back to striking than try to catch up to a very, very high-level striker, so that’s a big focus of mine. I’m really excited to fight Gregor and see where my wrestling is against like, an All-American. That’s like the pinnacle here, and it’s going to be cool to test myself against that.”

It’s a big moment for the 29-year-old Riddell, a member of New Zealand’s famed City Kickboxing crew. It’s his first career fight in Las Vegas, and the contest serves as Saturday’s co-main event on ESPN. Add in the fact that Gillespie sits at No. 13 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie lightweight rankings, and “Quake” says it’s all upside for him.

“Everything this week is special now because I’m like co-main event, fighting a ranked guy,” Riddell said. “I get to fight in Vegas, and that’s three pretty cool things.”

How cool it will be on fight night remains to be seen. After all, with his striking advantage, he could be looking at a highlight-reel finish. However, Gillespie’s dominant wrestling could also prove for an awfully difficult night, as well.

“I’m fully prepared for both,” Riddell said. “I spent a camp preparing for the best Gregor, and the best Gregor is great at getting you down and keeping you down, so I’m obviously going to avoid that all costs and stick to my bread and butter.”

If Riddell can deliver, it will surely be a big moment in his career. Unbeaten in the UFC, delivering a victory over a ranked opponent – big accomplishments on their own. But Riddell believes that if he can show the world that striking is only part of his game, he can make some real waves at lightweight moving forward.

“I know a lot of people didn’t want to fight Gregor, so I was more than keen,” Riddell said. “Throw me that bone. I’ll eat it.

“I’ll get this win, and then against a wrestler of that caliber, it’s going to make a lot of people above in those rankings a little nervous, I think.”

To see the full media availability with Riddell, check out the video above.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here