Jimmie Rivera, a UFC bantamweight-division fighter, out of Ramsey, New Jersey, currently holds a 18-1 professional record. His latest bout was a split decision over Pedro Munhoz on UFC’s November 7, 2015 Fight Night 77.
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Read the interview highlights below, or listen to SCP Radio’s full-length podcast:
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Chris Remmers: Describe a little bit of your preparation a day or two before you went down to Brazil. Was there any sort time difference? Did you have to reschedule your training?
Jimmie Rivera: Yeah, there was a little bit of a time difference, but it wasn’t too bad. They’re three hours ahead. I didn’t have to adjust much. It was a little warmer than it was here, so it was about in the low 70’s, high 60’s. The weather was pretty cloudy most of the time. This is their season of a lot of rain. It doesn’t get too cold, but it gets cloudy and rainy.
CR: That’s got to be tough, especially if you want to do anything outside of the gym.
JR: There’s a lot of stuff to do around there, to just walk around, but you’ve got to be careful, because it’s not the best neighborhoods in São Paulo. You’ve got to watch where you’re going. You know what I mean? Make sure you know of the area where you’re going to.
CR: Were there any places, while you were down there that stood out to you?
JR: Any of the hotels you go in are really nice and everybody is friendly. You’ve got to be careful going down the wrong street, wrong ally ways. You want to go more to the public places. Stuff like that.
JR: City areas especially. São Paulo is not the best. Rio de Janeiro is one of the best if you’re going for [tourism]. It’s a little safer than São Paulo. I was there. I got to travel a little bit on Sunday (day after the fight) and go around a little bit. Everyone was friendly. It was a little rowdy at the arena for the fight. They’re really for the Brazilians and I was fighting a Brazilian too.
CR: What was it like going in there, knowing you’re in Brazil, [with] the hometown guy you’re about to fight? You know half of it’s not for you. What’s going through your mind as far as preparation or motivation? Where’s your mind state at that point? Are you blocking them out or using them to your advantage?
JR: I’m blocking them out and just focusing on what I have to do and my game plan.
CR: That’s pretty much all you can do, I guess, when you have that many people around you screaming at the top of their lungs.
JR: Yeah, even though they’re screaming and chanting I’m just focusing at the task at hand and keep my mind on that, like my coaches say.
CR: Would you say the atmosphere in the arena was what you were expecting? Was it a little less, a little more?
JR: A little more, I guess, negative in a way. They’re literally cheering in Portuguese, “Kill him! Kill Him!”, before the fight. So, it was really hostile. They’re really for their people, which is understandable – a little bit more hostile than other places.
CR: When you’re flying in and when you were not training specifically, on break or before or after the fight, what was the atmosphere difference in terms of the environment around you versus being in the [United States] or New Jersey? What was the contrast?
JR: It was a lot warmer. Not as sunny though. It’s like their cloudy weather. It pretty much didn’t change the whole week. It was the same the whole week. Sunday it got a little bit nicer, but it still was cloudy. It wasn’t sun out and bright. It was a pair of jeans and t-shirt everyday pretty much. I guess they love us in a way, depending on where you’re going. Our dollar goes far. They try to take advantage if they can. They try and get some extra money for a cab or something like that.
CR: What were some of your thoughts when you were in the plane, looking out the window, flying into Brazil for the first time? What were some of the things running through your head?
JR: Uh … I guess we’re going to do this. It was really just focusing on the fight itself and getting ready. Focusing on the weight cut and what I have to do over there. I’ve got to train, but besides that I’ve got to do media stuff, videos and interviews. Stuff like that. So, the first fight is getting the weight going, making the weight cut Friday. Then the second fight, which is the easier fight, is the fight itself. After that you kind of enjoy and head back home.
JR: My fight was late Saturday night and I didn’t leave until late Sunday night. The fight card started at about 9:30 p.m. until about 4:30 a.m., because we were going [on] Pacific Time. The fight started at 9:30 p.m. (Brasília Time Zone). So, instead of me going to bed at 12-one o’clock, I was going to bed three-four in the morning, because I knew I was going to fight later. I wanted to make sure I got my body acclimated.
CR: Obviously you were cutting weight, you didn’t get to eat too much, but afterwards were there any amazing food places that stuck out? I’ve heard great stories about the food.
JR: Yeah, we went to a couple of places. Where we stayed at the [Hilton São Paulo Morumbi], downstairs there are places where you can eat. There was a whole shopping mall. The atmosphere was a little different. Everything closes kind of early. When you’re eating in [New York City] everything is open until about three or four. It was a different city life there. All the food was amazing. We actually found an Italian restaurant about 15-20 minutes from the hotel. I always like Italian food after weigh in. It was unbelievable, pricey but well worth it.
CR: So, now you’ve been through two UFC fights. Here you are trying to break out, get your third fight. How big, for you, would it be to get a fight in the States, let alone New Jersey itself?
JR: It would be great! Be great not having to travel overseas and stay local for once. Even if it was in [Las Vegas] or California, somewhere in the States, it would be a lot better. There are only so many times you want to go overseas. I mean I enjoy it, but I like being home too.