After all, in under a year, he's gone from losing on a Strikeforce undercard bout to headlining a Strikeforce event on Showtime. Additionally, if he beats his name opponent, the local Chicago fighter could put himself on the map nationally.
"[Riggs is] definitely the most complete fighter I've faced and I'm a big fan of his, and he's paid his dues," Taylor tells MMAFighting.com. "Right now, basically he's in my way, so it's up to me to get him out of my way and keep it moving. I'm looking at him as an opportunity I need. It's a big step up so it's up to me to prove I belong in his category or above."
Last November, Taylor competed on the second fight of the Fedor vs. Rogers undercard and lost by strikes to Nate Moore. For Taylor, currently 6-1, it was his first taste of defeat.
There were many factors that made it difficult for Taylor to fight at his best. Taylor fought injured, which forced him to fight in a southpaw stance, and also welcomed a second child to the family.
"It was crazy, last year for that November fight, it was like everything that could went wrong, went wrong," Taylor said. "It's crazy to say but it was a blessing with me losing cause it gave me a chance to go through so much adversity."
Then there was also the inexperience of fighting for a major promotion for the first time.
"For my last Strikeforce fight, I got caught up in the hype, trying to sell the fight, trying to sell myself and what I do and who I am and my swagger and all that," he said. "Right now, winning is the best thing. You could promote yourself and the fight but winning the best promotion you could do for yourself."
Born and raised in the South Side of Chicago, Taylor began wrestling during junior year of high school and during his collegiate travels considered MMA after training experiences with other wrestler-turned-MMA fighters such as Brock Lesnar, Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Hughes.
"Everywhere I went I was just surrounded by mixed martial artists and seeing the successes that they've all had -- I coached high school wrestling -- and it was like, 'I think I want to give [MMA] a shot rather than just trying to teach," Taylor said.
Since his first MMA loss, Taylor has reeled off back-to-back wins in 2010. His most recent fight was for Bellator in April when he scored a highlight-reel head kick in 68 seconds. Taylor hopes to translate that aggressive style Friday night to a live television audience.
"I definitely need to come out on top and get a victory to showcase what I'm all about and try to gain as many fans as I can from the Phoenix [crowd] as well as the television exposure, and try my best to make myself a household figure and a name that people recognize and a talent they respect," Taylor said. "So win or lose, I'm always going to look to go out and impress the crowd."
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