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Matthew Riddle enters Bellator season nine welterweight tournament

Esther Lin

Matthew Riddle has a new gig. And no, he hasn't opened a marijuana dispensary.

MMA's most vocal pro-pro advocate this side of Nick Diaz has found a home in Bellator MMA. The company officially announced Monday that the welterweight standout will compete in their season nine tournament.

Riddle (7-3, 2 no-contests) had his hand raised after each of his past four UFC fights. But twice in that span, his post-fight drug tests turned up positive for marijuana, causing the results to be overturned to no-contests. After the second, originally a split-decision win over Che Mills on Feb. 16, the UFC released Riddle.

The Las Vegas-based fighter had signed with the Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championship, but Bellator bought out Riddle's contract.

"I had so many options after I left the UFC, but knowing that I was able to compete in a tournament against guys like Paul Daley, Ben Saunders, and Douglas Lima, signing with Bellator was an easy decision," Riddle said in a statement. "This division is just so stacked, and being able to fight in a tournament makes it even better. Bellator is doing a lot of great things right now, and I want to be a part of it."

In a press release, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney noted concerns with Riddle's marijuana use -- he carries a Nevada medical marijuana card -- but ultimately decided Riddle was worth the risk.

"Matt's got all the tools to be a force in our welterweight division," Rebney said. "When I saw Matt get released from the UFC coming off 4 straight wins including his dominant win over Mills in February, we took notice. We both realize that Matt will have a target on his back for his past indiscretions. But having discussed it with him, I'm comfortable that he's in the right place to enter the Bellator cage this fall in what will be the most loaded Bellator Welterweight Tournament in the promotions history."

Riddle laid out his Bellator goals.

"No questions asked, I want to win the next Bellator Welterweight Tournament, get my shot at the title and take my beautiful wife to the MTV Awards and meet Snoop Dogg," Riddle remarked. "I've seen all the pictures of Bellator guys walking red carpets and it's something I want to earn and be able to do. What could be better than that?"

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