Aaron Riley Blog: Fighting Teammates and Rewarding Bad Behavior

Even though the fight is a week closer than the last time I was here, things are pretty much the same. I’ve still been practicing the stuff I’ve been game-planning, doing a lot of sparring, but more than anything just sharpening up in all areas – boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu – since I’m constantly trying to get better at all those.

For Labor Day weekend I kept things pretty laid back. My girl came in town and took in some sites. One thing we did was go to the Nuclear History museum here in Albuquerque. There was a lot of nuclear testing that used to take place out here. So we did that, learned a little history. Went to “Old Town” Albuquerque which is hundreds of years old. Just relaxed, did some site-seeing.

As you may have heard, lots of stuff has been going on at Jackson’s over the past few weeks as far as Diego Sanchez’s injury and Carlos Condit taking Nick Diaz’s place. Before getting into those I wanted to mention a team dinner we had the other weekend where Jon Jones got all of us rounded up for us to go out. I think that kind of stuff builds unity and camaraderie. It’s good for the team. We sweat and bleed together so we got to just share a meal. It was awesome and hopefully we’ll start making it a habit. Usually we go out in smaller groups, but I’m hoping the larger team thing happens more regularly now.

With Diego’s situation, it’s a terrible thing. Usually, I think we as fighters feel like we let everybody down when we have to pull out of fights with an injury – we feel like people wanted to see the fights, people bought tickets. Family members might have already booked flights and hotels. You run through a lot of emotions. Bottom line is it’s a big bummer…a sucky situation.

I think Diaz’s actions were pretty irresponsible. There’s all this speculation about social anxiety and stuff. If that’s the case, I would think Nick has the kind of money to address that kind of thing with some therapy or whatever. When I started seeing things online I wondered how Zuffa was going to handle it. I hate that it seems like they reward “bad boy” behavior, like, “I’m gonna go on TUF and act like the biggest idiot in the world, and if I do in the end they’re going to give me a bigger fight.” A lot of fighters see that stuff and it’s disheartening because they’re so busy training, trying to do things properly, that they don’t have time or interest in acting ridiculous. But then when people do that and you see that the UFC rewards it you’re kind of like, “What the hell is going on?”

So initially it was kind of refreshing to see them put their foot down, draw the line at the lack of professionalism, but then you know how things went. We’re all required to do media and we all hate it. I don’t think any fighter wants to miss training sessions to do interviews. But it’s part of the job. I don’t think people should be allowed to dodge it. Georges St. Pierre said it best when he talked about how he had to miss time in the gym to promote fights and if Diaz doesn’t, it’s basically an unfair advantage.

I haven’t trained with Condit a lot since he usually works with the heavier guys but I know he’s been waiting his whole career for the opportunity to win the UFC title. I mean every fighter is…for that phone call, that moment. So I know he’s really excited.

I also know it puts Greg (Jackson) in a tough position so I feel bad for Coach. Then again, it’s kind of a good problem to have when you’ve trained so many guys who are the best in the world. I feel like that out of the billions of people in the world, when it comes down to just two people for a title you kind of have to do it even if you’re teammates. Fighters like the analogy that this is war but it isn’t war, it’s a sport, and you’ve both made it to the highest point. For me it’s always been friends before, friends after a fight, but for those 15 to 25 minutes you give it all you’ve got.

Speaking of which, that’s all I’ve got for this blog entry. Don’t forget my fight against Tony Ferguson is coming up at UFC 135 in a few weeks. You can stay updated on my progress towards it through this blog as well as on Twitter (@aaronrileymma).