Jimmie Rivera, a UFC bantamweight-division fighter, out of Ramsey, New Jersey, currently holds a 17-1 professional record. His latest bout was a 1:35 knockout (punches) on the UFC’s first-ever Scottish fight card.
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Jimmie Rivera: Growing up in Ramsey and just being around Ramsey, it’s a great small town. It’s really nice — great people. It’s just kind of like that little small town you get to enjoy probably hearing every country song. It was a great experience growing up there and being around so many good people
CR: What was really your motivation for getting into marital arts and MMA?
JR: It’s funny. When I was a little kid, I was in Lodi. I was in second grade and my mom wanted us to move to a better school district, which was Ramsey, ranked top 25 in the state. We moved and I was kind of like the new kid there and I was getting picked on. This was in third grade. So, I never told her that it was from being bullied but that I just always wanted to do it. She wanted me to be a little more disciplined. One thing led to another, and I started training when I was nine years old and fell in love with it.
CR: So nine years old was when you started Tiger Schumann’s for the first time?
CR: So recently you had your first UFC fight in Scotland. Describe the excitement of fighting in that destination.
JR: Unbelievable. When you first land there, the view and everything as you land, even when you get out, the taxi ride to the hotel was unbelievable. Such beautiful scenery, the weather was very nice — not too cold, not too hot. Just very, very country-like.
CR: Was there anything that stood out to you specifically?
JR: The old buildings. The empty old buildings that you are not allowed to go into, but they kept around as, I guess, as character to the city of Glasgow. It was really cool. Even out of our hotel room, looking around, me and my team seeing all the old buildings around, the scenery, and how the city itself looks.
CR: What was the atmosphere like when you guys were not training? Just going out to grab food or whatever you were doing outside of the gym.
JR: Everyone is super friendly. They say cheers after every sentence. It was really nice and cool. Walking around the city, you had people that were not working class, but older in their thirties. You had young kids around that were like the hoodlums — literally the hoodlums. You see young kids getting in trouble here and there, like hanging around the McDonald’s and stuff like that. And you have the regular people in their thirties going around doing their thing and shopping. It was in the city, so there was a lot of shopping and malls there, as well as business too — a lot of old buildings right outside. It’s not a huge city, but it’s really nice.
CR: When you are either training for a fight or you are just going out with friends and family, do you prefer more of a city environment or a suburban area?
JR: Suburban area. I mean, it depends on the mood. It depends on what we want to do, where we want to go, what the group wants to do with friends or family. I know my family is very suburban-like — nothing too crazy. I work in the city and I have a school in the city. It’s a little bit of a pain. It’s not as comfortable where you can park your car right away. You have to find a lot and pay for parking. Suburban life is very laid back. So, especially with my family a lot we just like to lay back and relax. With my friends, it’s the city or somewhere local depending on the night.
CR: When traveling for a fight, how do you stay focused and mentally prepared for a long journey like let’s say Scotland?
JR: Just keeping the eye on the W and keeping my focus on what I need to do. To be honest, it’s that discipline that I think carried from training with Tiger Schumann’s so long. To keep that focus and discipline on that, and what I have to do, and make sure I don’t mess it up.
CR: Whenever you are on the road, do you ever get anxious before a fight or is it more of a soothing, “on my way to take this W and I’m going home?”
JR: I’m always anxious because I always want to get the weigh-in’s over. It’s like the first thing I’m worried about — getting the weight cut done. It’s one of the hardest things for a fighter. Then after that, I just want to fight, get in there and do my thing. Then relax and enjoy. Hopefully, it’s a win every time.
JR: There hasn’t been a UFC event there. Scotland was the first UFC event in Glasgow, so I was part of that to make history for the first UFC event. They are trying to set one up in Puerto Rico and be the first event. Plus my heritage — half of it is Puerto Rican. I have family out there. And I always wanted to go there and experience it. I’d love to fight there and stay to enjoy a vacation afterwards.
CR: Where would you say your most memorable fight was?
JR: I have to say Atlantic City. I had so many fights down in Atlantic City. I mean, Scotland is obviously going to be there as my first UFC fight win and debut. But, definitely a lot of wins from Atlantic City at the Tropicana and Borgata.
JR: I’m going to have to say Atlantic City. I have been to Connecticut and fought, been to California and fought. [Las] Vegas was good too; Vegas was a fun time. It depends on the crowd. I feel like Vegas is a little different than the crowd in Jersey — in Atlantic City. It’s a good time. I’m a Jersey boy, so I have to say Jersey.
CR: What are the three destinations that you haven’t been to yet but would like to go?
JR: I’m a little bit into the country music now. I have been for a couple years. It’s kind of my escape away from everything else. I just get my mind focused. I definitely want to go to Italy and experience that. And no matter what, my bucket list is Puerto Rico too. I really want to see my heritage and see my culture. I’m really into that stuff. So, definitely Italy and Puerto Rico, probably a little Nashville for a little country music. Scotland, Thailand, and I stopped in Germany – but I was in the airport, so that doesn’t count. Canada was the other place that I have been to. Canada was cool. They have a mall that runs, because it gets so cold there, literally underground and it just goes for blocks upon blocks.
JR: I don’t know. I’m trying to get a fight soon. I know Uriah Faber doesn’t have a fight. I’m not trying to call him out, but I’ve said if no one wants to fight him, I’ll fight him. I definitely want that fight. I have been in three different organizations and won three different belts. And I go in there, and I guess out of habit, I feel like I fight one or two fights and get a title shot usually to the best people they have in the organization. I’m in the UFC and I don’t want to fight to be in the UFC forever. I want to fight the best and I want to work my way to the top. I’d rather not fight someone that’s ranked 15, I’d rather fight someone that’s top-five. I want to keep working to the top and take the next step. My goal is whoever has the UFC belt, to win that belt.
CR: Is anything in-line? Or are you just kind of waiting for that call?
JR: Just training, training my butt off right now. Kind of waiting to see what they have set up. Even if they get me something in October, I’ll still take the fight in December for Uriah. Win that one, take the next one. I’m just kind of hoping that my manager, Kurt Pellegrino, finds me something. He’s working his butt off too. So, I’m just kind of waiting here. I don’t know what you want to say.