Eyeing that next step up in competition, Jimmie Rivera got exactly what he wished for as he’s set to take on Urijah Faber, September 10th at UFC 203. Rivera who last fought back in January, defeated Iuri Alcantara via decision in his hometown of New Jersey. Faber had another crack at the title last month against arch rival Dominick Cruz but fell short once again.
The match up pins prospect vs. veteran but Rivera has been in the game for a long time. Despite being only 3-0 in the UFC, he’s fought 20 times in his pro MMA career and in his last showing was able to take out a veteran in Alcantara. Now he’s not only taking on a veteran but a legend in the sport who’s one of the most popular fighters to ever compete. Rivera knows the opportunity ahead of him but is all business.
“I am so excited to be fighting him but fighting him means that it’s just another day in the office. I have nothing against him, he’s a cool dude but it’s time to take care of business and work my way closer to that UFC belt.”
A former 4 time UFC title challenger, Faber may have never held UFC gold but he’s a former WEC champion and has won all but one non title fights in the UFC.
“I think Faber is great but as long as I have a fun training camp I can beat anyone,” Rivera said.
A win over Faber would definitely put Rivera in title talks as Faber is coming off a title fight in June. Despite a first close fight with Cruz, Faber had no answer in the rematch.
“I think how he goes about fighting Cruz is the wrong way,” Rivera said. “Cruz is a very talented and tricky fighter. He uses a lot of different set ups to get his strikes in.”
For Rivera, Faber will definitely present the toughest challenge of his career. Faber is a former champion and has fought the who’s who of the lower weight divisions but Rivera feels he’s ready for whatever Faber will throw at him.
“He’s going to try to take me to floor and wrestle me. Maybe the biggest threat is stopping his takedowns but like I said before I am going to have a full training camp and with that I am confident that I can stop everything he throws at me.”
A win over Faber could set him up for a title fight as bantamweight king Dominick Cruz awaits his next big challenge. With no fighter being able to figure Cruz out, Rivera feels he’s the one to do it.
“I think I match up great with Dominick Cruz, a lot of people do not know how to fight him,” Rivera said. “I have a great coach and also a great game plan if I get to fight him. A lot of people have a problem fighting him because they all fight him the wrong way. I think you need to be an experienced fighter to beat him. I believe that I have that experience to beat him.”
Despite being only 27 years old and 3-0 in the UFC, Rivera holds an impressive 19-1 pro MMA record and is riding an 18 fight win streak. Having formerly tried out for the Ultimate Fighter season 14 and failing to make the house, he is now making waves in the division. Training and also coaching at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA, he is a true product of the gym and credits his success to his upbringing there.
“My key to success is hard work, sweat, blood and tears. I think a lot of it has to also do with the way I was brought up through Tiger Schulmann’s and learning a lot of discipline has made me successful. My coach “Tiger” Danny Schulmann is a great coach and really understands the sport and knows how to get someone who has never done anything physical in their life before, to become a high level martial artist. For example I started Tiger Schulmann’s when I was 8 years old and look how far it has gotten me.”
Rivera is definitely on the right path as he seems to have found the right people to get him to where he is today. A lifelong martial artist, he embodies the team values and spirit as he’s used his knowledge and experience to pass it onto others.
“Learning the martial arts to become a better individual and be able to defend myself was my first goal. As I got older, my next goal was to pass on my knowledge to people who were just starting and to help them as my instructors help me to be successful. My first passion will always be teaching and second is fighting. My goal is to fight the best and beat the best and to one day become UFC champion and to know that I have fought and beaten the best.”
With the biggest fight of his career coming up, Rivera will look to put his name on the map when he takes on one of the greatest bantamweights in Faber. All of a sudden, the bantamweight division has become arguably the UFC’s most exciting division and Rivera is ready for his time.