Saturday, November 27, 2021

Diego Rivas Targets UFC Gold Following His Amazing Victory Over Cancer

Rivas beat aggressive cancer despite being told by doctors that he had as little as one month to live.

The Chilean, known as “Pitbull”, participated in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Despite early elimination, the featherweight saw victory in his UFC debut against Rodolfo Rubio.

Rivas is perhaps best known for a flying-knee knockout of Noad Lahat at UFC Fight Night 82, which earned him a “Performance of the Night” credit and a cash prize of $50,000. Things were going well for the 25-year-old until, soon after, he was diagnosed with cancer. Rivas’ fear of never fighting again were compounded by the realization that he was facing death, as doctors’ one-month timeframe would have seemingly confirmed. Rivas recently told MMA Fighting of the shock when hearing the news for the first time:

“It was a radical, 180-degree turn. After coming off so much joy with a victory, so many projects in mind, I wanted to fight two more times that year, I was in a good situation since that fight had left me in a good position in the UFC. But, well, God doesn’t give us anything we can’t bear, and I had to deal with something very, very rough last year, and in the moment I was shaken.

“Being sincere with you, I thought about the worst. I thought I was never going to fight again, and I even thought I was going to die, because it was a very aggressive cancer, and I was given two weeks to a month to live because there were already cancerous cells in my blood stream. It was a very severe and serious cancer, and I’m not going to lie, at one point I was scared, very scared. But I was strong throughout all of this thanks to my family, thanks to all the people that love me, my training partners, and my friends that that were always with me, and because of them I was able to get through this and move forward.”

Rivas’ love of fighting is apparent in his words. In reflection, the Chilean told MMA Fighting that losing what he loved doing most was the hardest pill to swallow:

“At the beginning, when I wasn’t sure how developed the cancer was, I thought about the worst,” Rivas said. “I thought that it had maybe branched, and I wasn’t sure how long I was going to live. But the worst for me wasn’t even that I was going to die, it was that I wasn’t going to be able to fight and do what makes me happy.”

Rivas entered a course of chemotherapy, which thankfully worked. The 25-year-old has God to thank:

“If can say anything, it’s that chemotherapy is an experience that you will never imagine what it’s like until you experience it,” Rivas said. “Thank God I was very lucky that the chemotherapy that I did was one of the more mild ones, but even then, it left me weak. Now, I truly admire the people that have cancer and are battling everyday, and I just can’t understand how they can have strength to smile, walk, and live, because the reality is that people that have cancer and are subject to chemotherapy, that’s something completely wearying that destroys the human being physically and mentally. Those people that keep fighting, and give cancer a fight, are people I admire.”

Chemotherapy has seen the featherweight lose a significant amount of weight; a return to the octagon is in view, but at bantamweight. Rivas’ determination and love of fighting drives a spirit which is admirable in its approach. The UFC fighter has big plans of one day becoming a champion and having won the biggest battle of his career, it would be hard to doubt him.

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