He’s been all over the country chasing his dream of being an accomplished mixed martial artist, now Jeremiah Riggs is thrilled to be able to fight in front of his family and friends in Tunica, MS April 23rd at Empire Fights “A Night of Reckoning III” against Keith Johnson.
“I love fighting in Mississippi”, proclaimed Riggs. “Empire Fights at Harrah’s Casino is the place to be when Big Rig comes to town. I plan on putting on a show, raising some hell, getting the win then kissing my momma on the cheek. It’s great when you get to come home and fight in front of all your friends and family. Empire Fights has given me a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it.”
After getting out of the Army in 2005 Riggs started fighting on some small shows in Mississippi and Alabama. After doing well with minimal training Riggs moved out to California to train with Frank Shamrock and eventually made his IFL team. After the team disbanded Riggs came home to Vicksburg and trained with Alan Belcher until he decided to move to Illinois and train at the HIT Squad.
“There are a lot of good dudes at the HIT Squad,” boasts Riggs. “Let me tell you, the level of training partners I have up here are second to none. Everyday I spar with Brain Foster and roll with guys like Matt Veach and John Madsen. Those are some of the toughest guys in the UFC. What was Brock Larson’s record? Brian Foster rolled right through him. That’s the guy I want to spar with. Iron sharpens iron. You know what I’m saying?”
Jumping around the country and working with big names in MMA didn’t result in Riggs getting his big break. But an email sent by a friend back home did.
“It’s funny how I got on Daisy of Love,” reflects Riggs. “I used to watch Rock of Love, Bret Michaels show over at (Alan) Belcher’s house. His wife would always mess with me about how I thought Daisy was attractive. Well another buddy of mine I talked to about the show went behind my back and submitted me for the show. Someone from L.A. called and asked me to be in Atlanta on such and such date for an interview so I dropped everything and went. They thought I was funny and a few weeks later I was in the house with a bunch of dudes.”
“The show was fun and I made some friends while I was there. But in the end it was good because it got my name out there but don’t mistake me for a reality star. I’m a fighter. That’s where my passion is. That’s where I want to make a living for myself and my little man back home.”
In February Riggs made his return to Mississippi at Empire Fights “A Night of Reckoning II” and fought a very dangerous Jesse Beal. Out of 15 combined amateur and pro fights all 14 of his wins had been by knockout.
“Let me tell you something about Jesse Beal,” said Riggs. “That guy hits hard. The plan was to take him down but I ended up trying to stand with him most of the time and that wasn’t a good idea. Luckily I caught him in a triangle and he tapped out at the end of the round.”
What fans don’t know is that Riggs had spent 10 days in Australia helping teammate Brian Foster prepare for his fight against Chris Lytle and didn’t return back to Illinois until the Monday before the fight.
“Looking back that wasn’t a smart move but Foster asked me to go and I couldn’t tell him no,” explains Riggs. “My cardio wasn’t there and it showed. But I’ll tell you this. I’ll never make that mistake again.”
And Riggs looks to be taking his April 23rd fight with Keith Johnson seriously. In addition to training at the HIT Squad Riggs has been spending some time at Integrated Martial Arts in Lebanon, TN.
“Brian Fussell is no joke,” says Riggs “That dude makes you bust your butt from the time you walk into to the gym until it’s time for you to limp back to your car and go home. He’s spent a lot of time working with me on my hands and I’ve enjoyed my time down there. They aren’t the biggest gym but they work hard and have some guys like Justin Pennington and Stephen Westbeld who will be in the WEC and UFC one day.”
All Riggs has to do now is get the win against Keith Johnson (5-3), a former high school wrestling champion who is very well rounded and beaten some of the best fighters in the southeast.
“He may be the 2001 state wrestling champion,” says Riggs. “That’s fine but when he won that state title he wasn’t getting punched in the face by me.”
Empire Fighting Championship President Tyler Sory said he is looking forward to the matchup and expects an exciting fight.
“This is a big test for Jeremiah. Keith Johnson has made a name for himself in the southeast while Jeremiah was doing The Ultimate Fighter and Daisy of Love. If Jeremiah takes him lightly Keith can end this fight very quickly.”
“But Keith better not take the Big Rig for granted,” warned Sory. “Jeremiah has knockout power and has shown to have a surprisingly good ground game. His fight with Jesse Beal had without a doubt one of the most exciting finishes I’ve seen. I am really looking forward to this fight.”
In addition to Jeremiah Riggs vs. Keith Johnson, there are many more fights that will excite the Midsouth MMA fans in attendance.
The “Night of Reckoning III” fight card will feature;
“Kiko” France vs. Chris Davis
Benji Baker vs. Goldman Butler
Johnathan Mackles vs. Matt Hamilton
Cory Holder vs. Austin Lyons
Anthony Jones vs. Tim Galluzzi
Joel Cooper vs. Doug Larson
Chris Hall vs. Tony Way