Former UFC middleweight star Joe “Diesel” Riggs (26-9) will face ageless brawler Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson (15-7-1) during the highly anticipated Strikeforce mixed martial arts event at the world famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Saturday, Sept. 29.
“It’s going to be a classic case of new school versus old school,” said the 24-year-old Riggs of his upcoming challenge, which will also mark his debut with the Strikeforce organization. “I’m too talented of a fighter for (Jackson) to compete with me. I’m just more technical and I’m quicker and I hit harder. Everything that he’s good at, I’m better.”
Despite his relatively young age, Riggs brings to the cage a wealth of experience. The Phoenix, Ariz. native was given his first chance to shine on a national stage at UFC 49 on August 21, 2004, and responded by finishing Joe Doerksen with an onslaught of strikes in the second round of their matchup. Following his debut in the Octagon, Riggs notched three additional wins in the UFC, including a unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 57 on February 4th of last year.
“It was the fight of the night,” commented Riggs about his battle with Diaz. “The whole fight was standing up, banging. Everybody said he was supposed to be some great striker, but I stood toe to toe with him and won the fight.”
Recognized for his considerable punching power that has earned him 12 knockouts, Riggs also claimed All-American honors twice as a high school wrestler. “I think I’m probably one of the most well-rounded in the world. I think I stand up and I throw just as good as I ground and pound or fight off my back.”
“(Riggs’s) strengths aren’t necessarily my weaknesses,” commented Jackson. “I think the man with the bigger heart is gonna win this fight.”
Jackson, who will celebrate his 41st birthday six days prior to the bout, has shown no sign of slowing down since he made his professional fighting debut in 1998.
During Strikeforce’s inaugural mixed martial arts card on March 10th of last year, the East Palo Alto, Calif. native brought an end to a three-year hiatus from competition to meet Jorge “The Naked Man” Ortiz at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion. Jackson controlled Ortiz on the ground for the majority of the three round fight before walking away with a unanimous judges’ decision win.
Three months after his conquest of Ortiz, Jackson turned the tides on a feisty Mike Seal in the second round of their Strikeforce matchup and beat Seal into submission by executing a ground and pound strategy in the second stanza of the contest.
Jackson capped off a successful comeback year when, for the second time in his career, he faced Ronald Jhun whom he had submitted with a forearm choke inside of one round, eight years earlier. The December 8, 2006 rematch saw Jackson stop his old rival in similar fashion as he submitted Jhun with a rear naked choke at the 2:01 mark of the first round.
“The ring rust came off last year,” said Jackson. I got back in there and quickly started believing in myself again.”
Jackson entered the sport of mixed martial arts, during its early years, as a rugged street brawler with no formal combat training. He has since become a more sophisticated competitor, adopting world-class trainers Tim Lajcik and “Crazy Bob” Cook as mentors, in order to keep his skills on par with today’s highly-skilled, hybrid trained athletes.
“Before, I went in there and it was just fun for me. Now, I look at it more like business,” said Jackson, whose new outlook on his fighting career has him running, on average, 24 miles per week.
The Strikeforce mixed martial arts fight card at The Playboy Mansion will be headlined by the return of two Strikeforce world champions in undefeated lightweight (155 lb. limit), “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (12-0), and light heavyweight (205 lb. limit) crown holder, Bobby Southworth (13-4). UFC and Pride veteran, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (34-2) will square off with IFL veteran and former United States marine, Adam Lynn (11-7). Former WWE star and Tough Enough reality series winner, Daniel Puder (5-0), will also see action on the bill.