Jimmie Rivera, a UFC bantamweight-division fighter, out of Ramsey, New Jersey, currently holds a 19-1 professional record. His latest bout was a unanimous decision over Iuri Alcantara on UFC’s January 30th Fight Night in Newark, New Jersey. Currently standing 3-0 in the UFC, Rivera faces his toughest challenge yet this Saturday, September 10th, taking on the number two ranked bantamweight fighter Urijah Faber on the main card of UFC 203.
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Chris Remmers: It’s obviously been a long-time dream of yours to get the call to fight Urijah Faber. What was it like for you, your friends and family the night you received that call?
Jimmie Rivera: It was amazing. I actually received a text message a little after UFC 200 that I was given the opportunity to finally get this fight given he is a well-known name. To beat him would mean a potential title contention.
CR: That sounds incredible! I cannot tell you how excited we are for this fight, and how proud of you we are to continue to watch you ascend in the ranks of the UFC. You last fought Alcantara on January 30th. Tell me a little bit about how you have been able to stay fight ready from then until now? Did you have any time after your last fight to travel and enjoy the win?
JR: Yeah, luckily I did get to take a little time off. I went on a little vacation with my family to Disney World in March. So, since then I have really been trying to keep my body and mind fight ready. I feel like my conditioning has been good. I’m really confident for this fight. I feel like conditioning is so important. The last thing any fighter would want to do would be to lose a fight because they are out of shape or their conditioning wasn’t up to par. The main focus [has been] just training, getting better and going out every training session giving my all. That’s all you can do.
CR: What was that feeling like for you to announce to your friends and family that your dream, to fight Urijah Faber at UFC 203, had come true?
JR: It was just absolutely incredible to see the excitement on everyone’s face, and to hear it in everyone voices. It meant a lot to me. It definitely hit me after I spread the news to my friends and family. They are my motivation to train hard and keep getting better at what I do.
CR: Of course, family and friends play a huge role in the motivation of it all. Now, what’s your mindset currently going into the biggest fight of your career?
JR: Honestly, my mind set has been to just prepare, prepare, prepare. I’ve just been keeping my head down grinding and trying to keep my mind fight ready. All I could do every day was go in the gym, bust my butt and become the best I can be, as well as study my opponent, and be mentally and physically ready.
CR: Looking into the match up, Faber has a high submission rate of 52%. Did your preparation or focus change a little bit for a guy like this? Or, is it business as usual?
JR: You want to go into a fight like this standing up. You can’t go in worrying about that. Obviously, it’s going to be a factor. I’ve seen him try and take down other fighters, and I’m confident that I can make the counters.
CR: Now, on the flip side, 61% of your fights have been won by decision, compared to only 20% for Uriah. Given these statistics are you looking to go the distance? Or, are you going to be hunting for the KO?
JR: You always want to go for the knock out and submissions, because you can’t always control 100% of the judge’s decisions. So yeah, if I can get the knock out or I see an opening I’m going to take it. If a submission opportunity happens I would take that, as well as the decision. I just feel like you never know with going the distance.
CR: I wouldn’t expect it any other way. Everyone in your hometown of Ramsey is super excited. I am sure all your friends and family elsewhere are super excited. What is your travel preparation going to be like for Cleveland?
JR: Nothing too crazy. They are going to fly me out there the day before the event. I will get to train, do a little touching up and fine tuning my game plan, also make sure my weight is cut. I’m just really excited and grateful for this opportunity to fight in UFC 203.
CR: Of course! So, you’re a hometown Jersey boy. We all love you here. What has the buzz been like for you around the Tri-State Area for this upcoming fight?
JR: Yeah, I mean it’s crazy. I never thought I’d have such a huge following. Everyone on social media has been hitting me up showing support and telling me they are coming out to all my fights. It’s just a really incredible feeling. Just to think about all these people either taking seven-and-half-hour drives, or flying out from different parts of the country is unreal. It’s so cool.
CR: I was at your last fight in New Jersey, and you had by far the loudest cheers of all the fighters. With as many people from your hometown that came out for that fight, are you expecting similar support in Quicken Loans Arena this time around?
JR: I don’t think it will necessarily be as crazy as it was back in New Jersey. There are a lot of great fighters that will be there that night. Legends. A lot of these guys are nice guys out of the octagon, and I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone really. I’m not a trash talker and neither is Urijah. We are going to go out there and settle it in the Octagon.
CR: I know you were training with Frankie Edgar for a while, will he joining you on this journey to Cleveland?
JR: He won’t be coming out with me, but I hope we will get back to training after I get home. With that said there are a couple guys that I train with that are really talented guys, Marlin being one of them and a few other local guys that really help push my limits as a fighter. To get ready for a fight you have to fight the best and train with the best. That is big to get ready for any fight. I’m looking forward to this fight, and once the bell rings it’s right to work.