Jimmie Rivera Knows He Should Probably Be Fighting T.J. Dillashaw Right Now
Jimmie Rivera knows deep down that the should be fighting UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw this weekend rather than Marlon Moraes.
Now that’s not coming from an egotistical place but rather Rivera’s opinion based on his record compared to the rest of the fighters currently occupying spots in the top five rankings.
Rivera currently sits at No. 4 with Raphael Assuncao as the only other fighter in front of him who is coming off a win. Both former champions — Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz — are sitting with losses in their most recent fights while holding down the No. 1 and No. 2 position in the rankings.
As for Assuncao, he has split a pair of fights with Dillashaw but Rivera also knows he was soundly defeated by the reigning champion in their last meeting back in 2016.
That’s why in a perfect world, Rivera believes he should be facing Dillashaw but instead it’s Garbrandt getting the shot at UFC 227 on Aug. 4 from Los Angeles.
Of course there’s part of Rivera that wants to be bitter about it but he’s also smart enough to understand that Dillashaw and Garbrandt have been locked in a heated rivalry since they were training partners at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento. Rivalries sell fights and that’s exactly what Dillashaw and Garbrandt are going to do at UFC 227.
“I understand why they’re doing Cody and T.J. again from a business standpoint cause I run a business so I know that brings in more money. But when you look at it when you take the business out of it, the real matchup should have been me and T.J.,” Rivera said ahead of his fight on Friday.
“You have a guy that’s 5-0 in the UFC, on a winning streak and T.J.’s the champ so that makes the most sense. But I understand the business aspect and they want to make the money. I understand how they did this as well.”
Instead of fighting for the title, Rivera will get the chance to headline his first UFC card on Friday, although he believes that the promotion is putting a little bit more weight behind his opponent.
Moraes is a former World Series of Fighting champion, who inked a lucrative multi-fight deal to join the UFC last year.
Rivera feels like Moraes is getting more attention despite being lower in the rankings, but he has no problem dispatching another contender on his road to the title.
“They put me in the main event against Marlon and I feel like they’re pushing him more than me. I think with that said, I’ve got to go in there and get my hand raised and that way I can get my title shot,” Rivera said.
Rivera hopes that a sixth straight win will be enough to secure his shot at the title but he’s realistic enough to know that nothing is guaranteed.
“I believe it’s got to be me,” Rivera said. “But you never know what’s going to happen.”