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Joe Riggs on accidental shooting: ‘I thought I was dead, said goodbye to my son’

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Joe Riggs details what happened when he accidentally shot himself inside his home, revealing that he took the time to say bye to his wife and son while waiting for the ambulance because he knew death was certain. Joe Riggs’ Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) return, which was supposed to come against Paulo Thiago at UFC Fight Night 51 on Sept. 13, 2014, in Brasilia, Brazil, was delayed after Diesel accidentally shot himself inside his home.


See the initial report here. The accidental discharge — which occurred while Riggs was trying to take out a live round from ta firearm that had a bent pin in it — caused devastating injuries to his hand and upper thigh (graphic video here). The long-time mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for his wounds. But, Diesel didn’t think he was going to make it, which is the reason he took the traumatizing opportunity to say farewell to his wife and son.


Something Riggs revealed on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting) was a tough thing to go through for the entire Riggs family. Check it out: I lost consciousness before the Air Evac got to my house, so I was laying there and my wife was putting her entire finger in my wound, because she thought my femoral was hit and all that stuff. When you don’t feel pain anymore, that’s not a good thing, and it started to not hurt. And I started to let go and go to sleep. So, I know those things sort of go hand-in-hand with dying. So I told my wife to get my son from the bedroom so I could say goodbye to him. And it is something that must have been very traumatizing to my son.


But, I said it to him because I thought I was going, and it was just a sad situation for him. He continued: Everybody was asleep in my house. It was only 8:30, but everybody was asleep. Nobody heard it. You think when something like that would happen I would be calm, cool and collected, but I got up and ran around the house like a chicken with its head cut off. I’m laying there and then I see blood spurting up, and I’m like, okay, I should wake [my wife] up, and … I said, Lisa, call the ambulance, I’ve been shot, and we went from there. When I lost consciousness and I came back to, it was a feeling of any worldly stress you have, gone … it was a crazy feeling.


The feeling of dying was very easy. The feeling of wanting to live and to fight through that pain was awful. It would have been very easy to let go and die. But, I guess for a reason I’m here, and I’m alive, and I’m able to fight again unbelievably. My hand, I can make a fist, and yesterday I actually did my first workout. The doctors are astounded at how fast the rehabilitation has gone. He concludes: I thought for sure I hit my femoral artery, because it was just spraying blood.


I thought for sure I was going to die. I said goodbye to my son, I said goodbye to my wife, so I thought I was dead. When you think you’re going to die, it does something to you … it just deeply changed me to the core. Powerful stuff. Riggs, a lifelong gun enthusiast, says he will continue to own firearms, assuming the blame for the mishap — not the gun — because he wasn’t giving it his full attention. That’s because he was, of all things, going over his new UFC contract at the same time.


Riggs says he should be ready to get back into the cage as early as December, which would set him to potentially earn a spot on the upcoming UFC on FOX 13 event that is scheduled to go down on Dec. 13, 2014, in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. And after surviving his brush with death, there’s nothing or no one one who will inflict fear in him , which can’t be good news for his upcoming opponents.

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