UFC, Pride, IFL, and Bodog vet Aaron Riley recently fought on the Ultimate Warrior Challenge show where he beat Thiago Minu of UDL Brazil by unanimous decision. This fight was especially noteworthy for Aaron as it was his first fight since leaving American Top Team (ATT) and his second at what for years people have been saying was his ideal fight weight of 155. In this fight Aaron overcame a bumpy first round to control the second and third in impressive manner, finding a good balance of offense and defense as he avoided Minu’s up-kicks and submission attempts while scoring with mostly short strikes from inside Minu’s guard. Now we get to hear what life the life of Riley really is like.
In the archives are multiple updates with Aaron throughout his career.
KM: Tell us about your fight last weekend in Ultimate Warrior Challenge.
AR: Going into this fight I didn’t know a lot about this guy. He has a record of I think 8-2 and all the fights were in Brazil. I saw some highlights on the internet and knew he was a good kickboxer and came to find out he was a brown belt in jiu-jitsu after the fight. He was a really well-rounded guy it turns out but going in I didn’t know a lot. I was a little bit stubborn in the fact I kept going after the one gameplan of taking the guy down and working him on the ground but I really felt I could have engaged standing with him a little longer. I didn’t want to take any chances, I just wanted to get through this fight and I did. I really felt good coming through this fight. I felt he was a quality opponent and I’m pleased with the performance but there is room for improvement. A lot of it was ring rust that gets removed in probably two more fights and I’ll be looking to do something else.
AR: I think he was a friend of Hermes. He is part of that team UDL which is Shogun and Andre Dida’s team if I’m not mistaken. I don’t think Hermes trained him specifically to fight me or anything like that.
KM: Hermes was at the show and you two seemed to get along well.
AR: Yeah, we get along great. He left ATT a little before I did. People just outgrow the situation sometimes. That happens in all area of life and teams as MMA as well. Things changed for the both of us and he left before I did. Things change.
KM: Did you move to DC to teach or are you teaching because you moved to DC? What was your reason to move here?
AR: I am teaching up here in the area. I was already looking to change things up. I knew I was going to be leaving Florida and the DC Metro area looked as good a place as any because I already had a situation where I was coming in to a teaching position at two different gyms here locally. Until I got my feet under me and decided what to do fight-wise I would try the teaching and it worked out for me.
KM: You were listed on this show as fighting out of One Spirit but you just mentioned two gyms. What is the other one?
AR: I teach at two gyms in the area. Jeff Gordon Martial Arts in Gaithersburg, MD and I also teach at One Spirit Martial Arts in Herndon, VA. Those are the two gyms I was fighting for or out of in that sense but at the same time the fight preparation for this was all done at Sityodtong in Boston with Mark Dellagrotte. Also there was another gentleman who helped me with my jiu-jitsu, Dave Ginsberg. Those two guys trained me for this fight. Dellagrotte laid out the gameplan for the fight and then Ginsberg really tuned up my jiu-jitsu and Mark my standup.
AR: It looks as if this promotion is going to return to Northern Virginia in September and I’d look forward to competing here again. Also I’d like to continue to get back on track, back in the mix, so I’d like to get another fight in sometime this summer, preferably around July.
AR: I am dedicated to doing it. At the same time I don’t want to sit here and make a bunch of predictions like “I’m going to be this at this time”. I’m not getting caught up in all that. I always enjoyed competing and will continue competing and let the chips fall where they fall. I’ve been sidelined with a lot of different issues from time to time. I think I had four fights in the past two years and that is way too far apart.
KM: If you get another fight in the summer would you go back to Sityodtong?
AR: Definitely. Boston was a good fit. Everything worked well and everybody was really accommodating and nice. It is kind of about finding a space where everything clicks well. It is not like I’m looking to be involved with the most well-known gym. Sityodtong is definitely coming along with Kenny (Florian) and the other guys. Patrick Cote goes up there, Jorge Rivera…Mark is a very sought-after trainer. I’m just looking for a place where everything falls into place well and it seems like Boston fits that criteria.
AR: There is a very strong amateur network. I haven’t been to a huge amount of shows in this area but I’ve seen some good, quality guys in this area. Hopefully UWC will step in and fill the void in professional promotions. It is an up-and-coming area and they haven’t hit prime time yet but I think they are moving in that direction.
KM: This was your second at 155. Under ATT you did a couple catch weights like 160 but had problems making 155. Would you say you are at home at Lightweight?
AR: Yes. It sucks but it is part of the job. If you want to be a high-level professional it involves making some sacrifices, having some dedication and diet is part of that. Kicking and screaming I decided to do what I needed to do to reach my best performance weight. That is 155 and that is where I’m going to stay and compete.
AR: A big thinks to Mark and all the guys at Sityodtong, Dave Ginsberg, Jeff Gordon Martial Arts and One Spirit Martial Arts especially, Ken Pavia my manager, and Tapout. All those guys did a lot to make things happen.