It was a good day for the Tiger Schulmann fight team when Lyman Good was signed to the UFC in late June after a long and sometimes arduous wait. Good’s teammate, Jimmie Rivera, was pleased for his buddy, but then the questions began again.
“When Lyman got the call, people were like ‘when’s Jimmie going to get the call?’” he laughs. “I told myself, just keep working your ass off and hopefully the call will come.”
“It’s great,” said the New Jersey native. “We’ve been training our asses off, and when he (Good) got the call I was happy for him. We’re excited. It was a crazy week.”
On Wednesday in San Diego, Good made quite an impression in his Octagon debut, stopping Andrew Craig in the second round. Now, in Glasgow, Scotland, it’s Rivera’s turn.
“Right now, the biggest thing I’ve been thinking about is Marcus Brimage and beating him,” he said. “He’s in my way right now, so I have to take that first step and beat him, and then from there, enjoy the win. He’s the only thing on my mind right now.”
So there’s little thought about what it took to get here because now he’s here. What happens on Saturday night and beyond is all that matters, though you have to wonder why it took so long for a fighter with a 16-1 record and a 15-fight winning streak to get here. He doesn’t wonder.
“I think one of the main things is that I had to finish fights,” Rivera, who has five finishes on his slate, said. “It was something I worked on and something I guess I wasn’t great at, so I had to perfect that. Sometimes you hurt someone, but you don’t realize they’re hurt, and it takes a little bit, so it’s something I worked on when I was training and since I finished my last two fights and they’ve been going well, I think it really made a difference.”
For Rivera, the ability to get the finish these days was one he picked up quickly.
“To be honest, you really just have to open up your eyes,” he laughs. “If you rock him or hit him with a body shot and see him slow down a bit, you can see it.”
After going the distance eight consecutive times from 2010 to 2014, Rivera stepped things up in his last two bouts, stopping Anthony Durnell last November and then needing just 16 seconds to knock out Carson Beebe in May. That made Rivera, who competed for a spot on season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter but lost to eventual finalist Dennis Bermudez, a top prospect for a call to the UFC, but he couldn’t wait around for that call, so he expected to be back in action in September / October. Not that getting a fight has been easy.
“I didn’t want to go too long without fighting, and I didn’t want to get ring rust, so I was just going to keep chopping away at fights, one after another,” he said. “But it came to a certain point though where it was really hard to find me a fight. I was lucky that Carson Beebe took a fight, but before that it would be ‘yeah,’ then all of a sudden it was ‘no,’ so it took a lot to get a fight.”
Those days are over though. They ended the second he was asked to get into a fistfight in Scotland.
“I had the passport, I’ve got everything, so let’s do it.”