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Jimmie Rivera would prefer Thomas Almeida bout on Long Island over ‘scared fighter’ John Dodson

UFC 203 photos
Jimmie Rivera tenderizes Urijah Faber’s leg at UFC 203.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jimmie Rivera would accept a fight with fellow UFC bantamweight contender John Dodson. It just wouldn't be his first choice.

Dodson called Rivera out following Dodson’s unanimous decision win over Eddie Wineland at UFC Fight Night 108 last weekend in Nashville. It wasn’t the first time, either. Dodson wanted to face Rivera after Bryan Caraway withdrew from a fight with Rivera earlier this year.

“There’s somebody else I’d love to crack and beat the sh*t out of and that’s Jimmie Rivera,” Dodson said. “If he wants me to go out there and stand in the pocket, I’ll show I can stay in the center of the Octagon. If he wants to throw down with me, let’s see. Quit being a bitch.”

Rivera told MMA Fighting this week that he would accept a bout with Dodson if that’s what the UFC wanted. But the New Jersey native doesn’t necessarily desire that fight next, because he doesn’t think it would be that entertaining for the fans.

“I just think at the end of the day it would be a boring fight, because he’s just gonna run, people are gonna boo and that’s just the way it is,” Rivera said.

Fans in Nashville did boo the fight between Dodson and Wineland. Dodson, who is an impressive knockout artist, had a tactical game plan and Wineland had issues dealing with it throughout. In Rivera’s estimation, if he fought Dodson he would just be chasing him around the Octagon hoping to engage.

“He’s a scared fighter,” Rivera said. “He hits and runs. He doesn’t stand in the pocket. I wasn’t really impressed with his last fight with Wineland. Wineland didn’t really do much, too, which was weird. Wineland was very one-dimensional.

“I don’t even think Dodson hits that hard. I think people run in. The only thing he’s good at is kind of getting people to run in.”

Rivera (20-1) is in a good position now. He’s 4-0 in the UFC, coming off a dominant unanimous decision win over Urijah Faber at UFC 203 last September and has not lost a bout since 2008 — his second pro contest.

“El Terror,” though, doesn’t feel like he’s being pushed by the UFC and isn’t sure why he doesn’t have much buzz around his march up the rankings as some others. Rivera said he felt like he got more attention when he turned down short-notice replacement Marlon Vera in January than when he beat Faber, a legend who is being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer.

“I f*cked up Urijah Faber,” Rivera said. “I schooled him. And I got no publicity out of it. … I’m like the dark horse of the division. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Rivera’s first choice, he said, would be a title shot against Cody Garbrandt. But Garbrandt is already defending the belt against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas. So, realistically, Rivera knows he needs to win more time to get that opportunity. He’d like to face Brazilian striker Thomas Almeida in a main event or co-headliner at UFC on FOX 25 on July 22 in Long Island, N.Y.

That would be a home match for the 27-year-old Rivera. He’s from New Jersey, lives in Brooklyn and has his own Tiger Schulmann’s MMA gym in Manhattan.

“I think that’s a nice next step,” Rivera said of fighting Almeida at Nassau Coliseum. “Again, it’s not up to me at all.”

Garbrandt beat Almeida last year and earned a title shot against Dominick Cruz seven months later. Rivera said he’s been told that Almeida is kind of like the gatekeeper to the gold. That’s the kind of fight he wants, which is why he turned down the short-notice matchup with Vera at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix. At that time, Dodson was calling for a fight, but he was coming off a loss.

“I need a fight that’s worth my while,” Rivera said. “That’s all I ask. I’ve taken every fight the UFC wanted. I need something that’s gonna progress me forward. But I’m not the one in charge.”

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