01-10-2008, 10:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
| | Jorge Rivera – Picking up where 2006 left off
UFC® : Ultimate Fighting Championship®
As Jorge Rivera prepares for his UFC 80 bout against Kendall Grove on January 19th, he does so coming off the longest break – over 11 months – of his seven year pro mixed martial arts career. And maybe, at 35, and coming off a loss to Terry Martin at UFC 67 last February, a long break was the wisest course of action for the New Englander, who was allowed to regroup, rededicate, and reload. |
So, was the hiatus from the Octagon by design?
“By Terry Martin’s design,” laughs Rivera. “My jaw was broken in half and it was a bad, bad break.”
UFC.com’s first honorable mention pick on its list of the best knockouts of 2007, Martin’s 14 second blitz was spectacular and emphatic, with Rivera never getting the chance to get into the fight before it was over. But despite the disappointment of the loss, Rivera has no excuses.
“I felt really good for that fight,” he said. “I was in great shape and I felt like if that fight had gone past the first round that I was gonna beat him. I knew he was poorly conditioned, he had a hard time making weight, but to Terry’s credit, he hits very hard and he caught me at the right spot and did me in. I can’t take anything away from the guy; he did what he was supposed to do and I didn’t.”
What may have hurt the most was that a year that held so much promise for Rivera after his 2006 stint on the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter and a subsequent first round TKO of Edwin Dewees, was abruptly cut short.
“I was expecting a big year in 2007, and it just totally stopped everything,” he said. “I felt like I had already fought some of the toughest guys in the division and held my own against all of them – I gave a bunch of good fights for the UFC, I got out of that show and my confidence was at an all-time high.”
Yet as 2007 turned into the year of ‘The Spider’, with champion Anderson Silva running roughshod over the middleweight division, one of his old foes, Milford, Massachusetts’ ‘El Conquistador’, healed, rested and got ready for his return to the UFC.
“It gave me a lot of time to help me work on my personal life – my business and my kids - and it helped me refocus on what’s important to me as far as this fighting thing goes,” said Rivera, who recently welcomed a new baby into his home a few weeks back. “I’m in real good shape for this fight and it’s gonna be a real good one. I hope the fans really get their monies’ worth out of this because I know Kendall will be ready. He’s a good fighter and he comes well-conditioned, but I’m in good shape right now and I feel great.”
Perhaps even more important for Rivera is that he will enter next week’s bout with the intention of finally putting everything together and showing the fighter he has only shown glimpses of in the past.
“I feel that the best of me has yet to be shown in the ring,” said Rivera (14-6), who has faced a Who’s Who of the middleweight division over the years, scoring wins over Travis Lutter, David Loiseau, Dennis Hallman, and Dewees, while falling short against Silva, Rich Franklin, and Chris Leben. “Whatever the reason is, I sometimes just don’t pull the trigger in there and I don’t get to show what I’m really capable of doing. But I think I know what the answer is for that, I think I corrected that, and I hope to show that in this fight.”
It’s an honest assessment from Rivera, who has heard from those closest to him how good he is in the gym, but when the bell rings, something has been missing, even though he has beaten some top names and fought well against others in losing efforts.
“I get told that all the time, that I’ve got to just let it go,” he said. “It’s one thing just to say that, but to be in there with all that pressure…”
“In my opinion that’s what it comes down to – it’s how we handle the pressure. So I’ve got to just let it go, stop putting so much pressure on myself, and just have fun doing it. And basically, that’s how I feel this time. I’ve got nothing to lose with this fight.
I’m just gonna go in there and just do my thing.”
He’s hit the nail on the head when it comes to expectations leading up to this bout. Grove, winner of season three of The Ultimate Fighter, is the young rising star who is coming off his first UFC loss to Patrick Cote. A win against Rivera not only gets him back on track, it puts an impressive name on his resume. If he loses, he’s 0-2 in his last two fights against UFC vets, and he’ll have a long climb back to where he was before those fights took place. So he’s the one who has to be feeling the pressure heading into Newcastle.
“I’m an older guy, I haven’t been as successful as he has been, he won season three, he’s coming off a loss, and he comes from one of the best camps in the game,” Rivera agrees. “He’s also a young dude with a lot of popularity and a lot of fame and a lot of high expectations on him.”
As for the physical advantages the 6 foot 6 Grove holds over Rivera, no problem, says the diehard Red Sox fan.
“I’ve got a guy in my camp right now who’s 6-4 and 220 pounds,” said Rivera. “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got a good jiu-jitsu game, and he’s heavier than Kendall. He’s two inches smaller, but Kendall has a way of fighting where he slouches down to his opponent’s height. And I’m not knocking Kendall, I think he’s a great fighter - obviously he won season three and he’s had a good run since the show – but I think Kendall’s frame is small for the power in this division. And if he gives me the right shot, I will definitely knock him out.”
If that happens, just like that, Jorge Rivera is a player again in the middleweight division. If it doesn’t happen, well, Rivera – who owns his own martial arts school in Massachusetts – will cross that bridge when he gets to it because he knows better than anyone that the worst thing to do in this game is to start making plans.
“I’m taking it day by day and fight by fight,” he said. “I’m in real good shape for this fight and I hope it goes well. If all goes well, then I’ll plan my next fight. If it doesn’t go well, I’m gonna probably fall back on my business and take care of my business. But right now, I’m enjoying this.”
good luck with your business jorge, not sure why any other orgs wouldn't pick him up tho.
Grove via ko (knee)
01-11-2008, 06:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
i dont know why they had to throw "die-hard red sox fan" in there??? LOL
but im actually pulling for Jorge to pull off an upset here. WAR El Conquistador!
__________________ "For years I’ve underestimated Tim Sylvia. This time I think I’m gonna be in the minority and pick Tim and his long right hand. Come to think of it, I am a minority." - Din Thomas predicts Sylvia to beat Fedor
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