Jimmie Rivera did not have the best Christmas.
Over the weekend, Rivera was subject to some bad news when John Lineker was forced out of their scheduled fight this weekend due to a tooth infection. Lineker himself was already a replacement for former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, leaving Rivera in the lurch when just a few weeks ago he had a title eliminator bout.
With just a few days left before UFC 219, opportunities for Rivera to find a suitable replacement opponent seemed thin on the ground but then fifth-ranked Marlon Moraes offered to step in over Twitter and it looked like Rivera had found his dance partner, even affording Moraes a few extra pounds for the short-notice fight.
Moraes has been busy the last few months, fighting John Dodson at UFC Norfolk in November and then jumping in as a late-notice replacement against Aljamain Sterling earlier this month at UFC Fresno. Back-to-back wins over ranked competition rocketed Moraes up the rankings, and a victory of Rivera could have put him as next in line for a bantamweight title shot, but with less than a week until fight day, the weight cut seemed to be an issue for Moraes. It was something Rivera was willing to facilitate by offering a 140-pound catchweight fight.
Still, according to Rivera, Moraes wanted more of an allowance which and this time Moraes even responded with a video saying that he would force Rivera to fight on his terms since Rivera was the one who wanted the fight.
I give you 5 extra fucking pounds and you can’t make weight? @MMARLONMORAES you still say no to the fight. Five extra pounds. And this after you say you want to fight me.— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) December 25, 2017
Merry Christmas everybody! @JimmieRivera135 now you fight on my terms. You turn down fight with me two times now I’m ready to fight you buddy on my terms not your terms I’m going to remind you of old memories you know what I’m sayin @danawhite @seanshelby @Mickmaynard2 pic.twitter.com/PWQJn0dikM— Marlon Moraes (@MMARLONMORAES) December 25, 2017
Moraes has been seeking a fight with Rivera since he made his debut in the UFC earlier this year, at one point hoping Rivera would be the one to welcome him into the octagon. The fight had yet to materialize and Moraes seemed to enjoy using his leverage to force Rivera to concede even more, something Rivera did eventually acquiesce to.
Alright let’s do it, 145lb sign the contract. @MMARLONMORAES— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) December 25, 2017
But it looks like that may not have been enough. Later in the evening, Rivera returned to social media, posting that Moraes turned down the fight at 145 pounds and explaining that he was still out in Las Vegas and ready to fight, but leaving it unclear on whether he would be accepting another short-notice opponent.
Sorry to my fans, friends and family. @MMARLONMORAES said no to the 10 pounds. Those were his terms, I agreed, and then he withdrew the offer.— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) December 26, 2017
Let’s be clear on the situation. I’m in Vegas ready to fight. Missed Thanksgiving. Missed Christmas. Missed honeymoon. Was prepared. Was a professional. Cruz out. Lineker out. Marlon full of shit.— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) December 26, 2017
But if Rivera is willing to accept a fight other than the Moraes one, he doesn’t have to look far. Another highly ranked bantamweight jumped at the opportunity to re-insert himself in the title picture after the Rivera-Moraes fight seemingly fell through, former two-time flyweight title challenger John Dodson.
Dodson was on the receiving end of the controversial split decision that Moraes won at UFC Norfolk and is currently the eighth-ranked bantamweight in the world. With most of the fighters currently ranked above Dodson either out or uninterested in taking a fight on 5 days’ notice, “The Magician” could prove to be the best option for Rivera if he does want to compete at UFC 219. But while Rivera may still accept that fight, he appears to be eyeing bigger game instead.
UFC 219 Countdown.
Rumble talking about his favorite fights.
Rizin is coming.
Freddie shutting it down.
The MMA Hour. The year’s best interviews from the best in the business.
The Co-Main Event. A particularly interesting Christmas Spectacular.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
How the MMA world celebrated the holiday season.
Happy birthday Jesus— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) December 26, 2017
.@ufc Santa here giving fighters 50% of alll revenue from those slippery logos allll over the octagon— Alexander Jay (@ALIAQUINTA) December 26, 2017
Merry Christmas! pic.twitter.com/tIEInl4wXr— Valentina Shevchenko (@BulletValentina) December 25, 2017
Merry Christmas ya filthy animals! pic.twitter.com/RVF1oKUKy3— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) December 25, 2017
Feliz Natal— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) December 24, 2017
#HappyBirthday @darrentill2 and #MerryChristmas , for a gift I’d like to give you a contract with my name on it. We’ll make it happen. Until then don’t lose that 0 and remember nobody wants to stand and fight you like I do. #TheyreAllGonnaRun— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) December 24, 2017
All I want for Christmas is for @Cowboycerrone to agree to fight me in Austin Tx on Feb 18th..— James Vick (@JamesVickMMA) December 26, 2017
For Christmas I just want to be paid half as good as sage northcut to fight opponents twice as tough @seanshelby— Alexander Jay (@ALIAQUINTA) December 26, 2017
Merry Christmas! It’s snowing axes pic.twitter.com/ydj3I76JM5— Sage Northcutt (@sagenorthcutt) December 25, 2017
Merry Christmas from me and the mini pic.twitter.com/Ot6CZETp08— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) December 25, 2017
Seo Hee Ham KOs Jinh Yu in 1R (Road FC) pic.twitter.com/j8jwLK81PS— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) December 23, 2017
Paddy Pimblett (13-2) vs. Alex Savvidis (16-6-1); Cage Warriors 90, Feb. 24.
I hope everyone had a great long weekend. We’re back at it again to close the year out with another quality PPV, this one headlined by one of the best WMMA fights ever. Should be a good one.
Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.