SpitballingPod Interviews Jimmie Rivera Ahead of Fight with Dominick Cruz at UFC219
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jimmie Rivera ahead of his December 30th bout with Dominick Cruz at UFC219. You can read a full transcript of our conversation below.
Luke: Hi Jimmie, thanks for giving me some of your time.
Jimmie: No Problem
Luke: So you’re fighting Dominick Cruz on December 30th and you’ve spoken of how surprised you are that he has taken the bout. Just how pleased are you?
Jimmie: I’m really happy he took it, but I’m seeing now why he took it – he didn’t have any other options. For him it was either take this fight, or sit on the sidelines and not get a title fight straight away. It was great to be able to get this fight and it should help me move up the rankings.
Luke: As you mentioned, Dominick himself has said that he was essentially told he won’t be getting the next title shot, and he needed to take this fight. Does that fill you with confidence knowing that the UFC clearly have faith in you, and are looking to push you by putting you in a fight with a name like Cruz?
Jimmie: For sure, I think so. I mean, I’m doing well right now and I’ve done pretty much everything that they’ve ever asked me to do – I support them, they support me. I feel the support, I’m loving it and I think this makes the most sense, it’s the right move. He could have got a rematch right away, but he decided to wait and TJ got the title shot; Now you’ve got someone like myself that’s up and coming and he can either fight to protect his spot or he gets out of the way and makes room for myself to take the next title shot.
Luke: Despite racking up this crazy winning streak that you’re on, do you still feel like you’re almost being slept on a bit?
Jimmie: I don’t know if anyone is really sleeping on me, I think it’s just that I’ve been denied fights where people didn’t wanna fight me. People know I’m a hard fight, and they see it; I’m hungry and I think that’s the biggest thing that’s being seen right now. All my success now is speaking for itself, I’m moving up in the ranks and I think it’s just me getting my recognition now.
Luke: The fight is obviously just after Christmas, is that gonna be tough for yourself to not be able to eat what you want and having to train over the holidays?
Jimmie: It’s typical – you have to make some sacrifices as fighters and I’m not worried about it at all. I’m gonna be away from my family at Christmas, but I’ll be able to enjoy it all afterwards.
Luke: I wondered, what is the reason for you fighting? I know some people just love to fight, some do it for the money etc. Is it just that you love the competitiveness of fighting, as I see you do some training as well?
Jimmie: I started competing just to get better at a young age and then I just kept going with it. I saw some friends and teammates of mine fighting and decided that I wanted to do that too. I’m at a point now where I have a goal and I want to accomplish that goal and become UFC champion. I think in life a lot of times you can have regrets – you can wish you did this, or wish you did that and I don’t wanna live my life with any regrets, so that’s why I’ve really taken this on full force with teaching and fighting and this way, when I’m older I won’t have any regrets because I did everything to the fullest.
Luke: Cruz is obviously billed as this slick mover and it’s been said that’s he’s near impossible to catch clean, but then he was dropped several times against Cody Garbrandt. Do you buy into that? I’ve seen it said that he’s impossible to train for?
Jimmie: No, I don’t think he’s impossible to train for at all. I don’t agree with what people say. He’s got a different style, but he’s got a style that can be worked out and then you can figure out how to beat him. That’s what my coach and I have found, and then my teammates and I can practice and prepare. Training camp started last Friday and I’ve got a lot more to come before December 30th, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had plenty of time to train and I’m loving it, so there’s no rush and we can prep for what he does even more.
Luke: He’s suffered some well documented injuries, is that something that you take into consideration when you’re prepping for a fight, like making him work in certain spots and does it help to then know beforehand where his weaknesses are?
Jimmie: No, I think the only reason that he has his injuries is from how he moves and all that. Without giving up my gameplan, it’s not really something that we’re going to dwell on. I’m not thinking about whether he’s gonna make it to the fight or anything like that, I’m just gonna focus on what I need to do to be ready for fight night.
Luke: Do you think the three round distance suits you more as the younger, fresher guy?
Jimmie: Yeah, I mean I’ve been in five round fights already, but he’s the one doing all the work because he’s dancing around the ring the whole time.
Luke: Obviously he’s done his transition into commentary now also, do you think that’s a help or a hindrance while preparing for a fight? I’ve seen him say about how it’s given him the opportunity to be up close for your fights.
Jimmie: I don’t know. I mean we all watch fights, we all break down fighters, we just don’t all commentate. I don’t know if it really helps his game or not, but I only have to worry about the people in my division, he has to worry about a whole lot more, so I think it’s a little harder for him. But then on the other hand it could help as he gets to see all these different styles, but then we all do the same things as we all watch the fights and we love watching fighters do something and then if I see someone do something – because I watch all the fights, not just the main card and if I see something I like then I’ll try it while I’m training and see if it works.
Luke: I listened to his interview on ‘The MMA Hour’ and I was waiting for him to start talking trash like he usually does and it never really came. Did that surprise you?
Jimmie: Yeah I was surprised he didn’t talk any trash, but I guess he just respects me and he’s not gonna do that. That’s fine, I’m not gonna talk trash, I do my trash talking inside of the cage. If anything I was just waiting for a remark so I could laugh at it. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me, anybody can say anything and it doesn’t bother me or get into my head mentally because I’m gonna get to punch them in the fuckin’ face.
Luke: This is a big fight, there’s a lot of extra attention on this one and there’s gonna be a lot more media to deal with. Does it add any extra pressure onto you or is it just business as usual?
Jimmie: Nope, just business as usual. Same stuff, different day that’s it.
Luke: Just finally, what kind of fight are you expecting?
Jimmie: It depends whether he’s healthy or not as to what Cruz we’re gonna get. If you watch all his fights back, even the ones with TJ and Cody, you can still tell that he’s a little hurt but his movement is still the same, it’s always the same style, so I’m not really worried about any of it.
Luke: Thanks a lot for giving me some of your time, I do really appreciate it. Good luck for the fight, I’m really looking forward to it!
Jimmie: Thanks a lot, really appreciate it.