On July 22, 2017 the UFC’s #5 bantamweight Jimmie Rivera will be competing in front of a home crowd at UFC on FOX 25 in Long Island, New York against the #9 Thomas Almeida. At 20-1 in his MMA career, and 4-0 inside of the UFC, Rivera has the longest active winning streak out of anyone in the UFC’s Top 15 at 135, aside from the champ Cody Garbrandt. Before getting busy this Saturday night, Rivera caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss his cancelled bout with Bryan Caraway, his thoughts on Garbrandt dethroning Dominick Cruz, and whether or not the Top-5 135’er could ever make 125.
Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 main card will air live on FOX at 8:00 P.M. ET with the prelims starting at 6:00 P.M. ET on FS2. The Exclusive Fight Pass prelims will begin at 4:00 P.M. ET.
- Cancelled bout with Bryan Caraway at UFC Fight Night 103:
“Caraway got hurt; they gave me other options, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to fight someone that’s not going to help me propel forward. If it was someone in the Top 10 with a winning streak, doing really well that’s going to get me a title fight, yeah. They gave 2 people out there; one guy was winning and losing some fights, the other guy was coming off a loss who’s a 125’er. I’m like, ‘it doesn’t even make sense. Give me someone that’s either going to propel me forward or I’ll just wait.”
- The last time we spoke, you were giving off the vibe that Caraway just didn’t want to fight you. Do you think that was the case?
“I think he was just ducking me. He wanted to fight Lineker, who Lineker doesn’t have a good wrestling background. You saw what T.J. did to him, just took him down and ground and pounded the crap out of him. He didn’t want to fight me. I didn’t go to the fighter summit that they had this year, because I was in my training camp, but a couple of my teammates were there, and I heard Caraway was just breakdancing and having fun and didn’t look like his shoulder hurts. I don’t think he wanted to fight me. He kind of just screwed me over and pushed me back.”
- Would you say there’s some bad blood between you and Caraway?
“I don’t like him. I think he’s a pussy. I don’t really like him and I could care less about him. I’m just making sure I’m propelling forward to get that title fight.”
- What have you been doing to keep busy while you have been out of action?
“I have a school on East 23rd street in New York City, so I’m always teaching, working with my students, helping them get better, get in shape, and teaching kids how to defend themselves and build their confidence. So, I’m always busy; I always have something to do. There’s always another project, whether it’s my school, my family, or training. There’s always something going on.”
- Cody Garbrandt styling on Dominick Cruz at UFC 207:
“I think he was hurt, Cruz, and he looked like he just didn’t have it. He’s really good at putting his MMA and hands together, his takedowns, but as long as you can stop that. Cody looked great. Obviously, Cruz can’t box, and Cody’s a good boxer. It was an interesting fight, and it was interesting if you were going to see emotions take over or not. I think Cruz tried to get in his head, but Cody kept his composure when he fought, so it didn’t affect him at all. It was really cool to watch that fight and see what happened, especially since it’s my weight division.”
- Stylistics for UFC on FOX 25 opponent Thomas Almeida:
“I think it’s a good style matchup. He’s a kickboxer; I can take it anywhere I want to, so I can mix up the game. I’m looking forward to the fight. He called me out; he said he wanted to fight me. Hopefully, this will help him propel forward, being a #1 contender, and getting a title shot, too. I think he’s good, I just don’t think he’s in my league.”
- Is Almeida bringing anything to the table that you haven’t seen already?
“No, nothing at all.”
- Did you see anything in Almeida’s fight with Cody Garbrandt that might be the foundation for your gameplan?
“He’s got some holes in his game. I think when it comes to matching up and trying to fight someone like myself, it’s kind of hard because there are so many aspects that people haven’t even seen at this point; my Jiu-Jitsu, my wrestling. I think it’s going to be a very interesting fight. I think he’s going to be shocked and overwhelmed and not able to do much on me.”
- Do you think this fight will go the distance?
“I think it’s going to end early; I really do. I don’t think he’s going to be able to last at all.”
- How is training camp going at Team Tiger Schulmann?
“It’s going really well. It’s cool because all 3 of us are on a card. My teammate Shane Burgos and my other teammate Lyman Good, we’re all on the Long Island card. It’s going to be an awesome night for us and Team Tiger Schulmann. Training camp is going great; we’re all in shape, ready, and waiting to get it done.
- Could you potentially cut down to 125 to face Demetrious Johnson for his belt?
“Yeah, if I cut my leg off, I could drop down to 25 haha. But I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. I think even him moving up to 135 is stupid. He’s good, but he gives up a lot of weight for someone in that division. I think size-wize, it would be hard for him.”
“Hopefully after this fight, from sitting with the match makers and them expressing themselves, I go out there and put on a good finish, I can get a title shot.”
Watch the UFC’s #5 bantamweight Jimmie Rivera wage war with the #9 ranked Thomas Almeida, at UFC on FOX 25 from Long Island, New York on July 22, 2017. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!
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