by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
This Thursday, Joe “Diesel” Riggs will undergo surgery to repair spinal damage sustained in his fight with Cory Devela at “Strikeforce at the Dome” last Saturday.
Riggs injured his back in the first minute of the fight. Devela threw a kick, which Riggs tried to catch and use for a takedown. Instantly, he knew something was wrong.
“I felt fire shoot down my right leg,” Riggs told MMAWeekly.com.
Still, he tried to fight, throwing knees as the two clinched against the cage. Instinctively he drove forward for a takedown, his legs going numb, and walked into a hip toss that Devela executed perfectly.
When he hit the ground, it was no longer a question as to whether he could continue.
“I was like, I’m done. I’m done; I can’t do anything,” Riggs said. “I thought I was paralyzed.”
Doctors will use a procedure called Radiofrequency Denervation to heat the inside of his spinal discs, which will relieve pressure on his sciatic nerve that was aggravated by two previous back injuries.
Last April, Riggs had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disc between his L-4 and L-5 vertebrae. Then, four months ago, he broke a transverse process, a bone that protrudes from the vertebra and attaches to muscles and ligaments.
When Riggs cranked his back for the takedown, his sciatic nerve pinched against his transverse process and the afflicted vertebrae.
As a fighter with a strong sense of pride, the experience has deeply unsettled Riggs. He feels credit is being given where it isn’t due, and regrets taking the fight. When he arrived in Washington, his back was already acting up.
“I’m pulling my hair out over this thing, it’s embarrassing,” Riggs said. “I’m not trying to disrespect the guy, but he had no business beating a guy like me.”
On the bright side, the procedure has a short recovery period. Doctors have told Riggs he can get back into the gym a week after the process. Just to be safe, he’s taking two.
He also has an immediate rematch clause in his contract, so more than anything, he’s looking forward to proving Devela’s win was a fluke.
“I vow my career on it; it will be a total, complete ass whooping,” Riggs said.