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Despite bout agreements being sent out, Jimmie Rivera says he’s moving on from Marlon Moraes fight

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Marlon Moraes has a bout agreement in his home that says he’ll be fighting Jimmie Rivera at UFC on FOX 28. Moraes told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he has signed the deal and he expects Rivera to sign it, too.

“It’s done, it’s done,” Moraes said. “Yes. I’m already training.”

A few hours later, though, Rivera was singing a different tune on The MMA Hour. The top bantamweight contender told Helwani that he has no plans on signing the bout agreement and he was frankly stunned the UFC sent it to him. Rivera said he never agreed to fight Moraes on the Feb. 24 card in Orlando.

“I was surprised,” Rivera said. “I had no idea what to say.”

According to Rivera, the last he or his manager Lloyd Pierson spoke to the UFC was last Thursday about fighting Cody Garbrandt in January. Then, he received the bout agreement in the mail for Moraes at UFC on FOX 28.

The problem for Rivera, he said, is that he has his honeymoon scheduled the second week of February — and he has already changed the dates twice. Rivera said he doesn’t want to move his honeymoon again and it’s already paid for.

So, Rivera will not be signing the bout agreement for Moraes on Feb. 24 and he plans on waiting to fight for a top-tier 135-pounder, someone like Garbrandt or Dominick Cruz.

“I’m gonna sit back and I’m gonna spend time with my family, I’m gonna catch up on the holiday time that I missed and I’m gonna go on my honeymoon with my wife,” Rivera said.

This whole situation began when Cruz pulled out of a UFC 219 fight with Rivera, which was slated for Dec. 30. John Lineker stepped in on short notice, but he, too, withdrew due to an injury.

With less than a week before the fight, Moraes called Rivera out on Twitter. Rivera said he’d fight him. Moraes, though, could not make the 135-pound weight class, because he had just fought and knocked out Aljamain Sterling three weeks earlier. Rivera said he’d fight Moraes at 138, 140 or even 145.

Moraes admitted Monday that he was walking around at 165 pounds at the time and there’s no way he could have made 145.

“Man, realistically I could not even make the 45,” Moraes said. “I could not. I was 165.”

Rivera (21-1) said he then agreed to fight Moraes at UFC 220 on Jan. 20, but Moraes turned that down, too. Rivera said he feels like he has given Moraes enough of opportunities to make the fight happen, but isn’t going to postpone his honeymoon a third time to fight him in February.

“I gave you a chance,” Rivera said of Moraes. “Now it’s time for better things. It’s funny, like I’m not trying to run from him, because I will have to fight him one day. But I’m gonna fight him when I’m defending the belt and he’s the contender. That’s for sure. Unless he gets up there as the No. 1-ranked guy, that’s something a little different.”

Moraes (20-5-1) said he was frustrated, because he believes Rivera is trying to handpick opponents. Moraes said coming up people behind the scenes at local shows — they both come from the New Jersey regional scene — would talk about how Rivera only took fights he could win.

“I want to show this guy what I’m made of,” Moraes said. “I’m not a bum, I don’t pick opponents. I’m not scared to lose. Not a little bit.”

Rivera said the UFC will not be paying him anything for UFC 219, despite both of his opponents pulling out. He’s comfortable with that, but he thought it was uncharacteristic to get the Moraes bout agreement in the mail when he and his team never verbally agreed to that fight at UFC on FOX 28.

“How they did the Marlon fight, I understand from their perspective about it,” Rivera said “I wish there was a better communication, because there wasn’t. I understand what they’re saying, but you’re not gonna give us any heads up?”

Now, Rivera said he’s going to spend time with his family in New York and New Jersey and go to Costa Rica with his wife Samantha next month. When he returns, he said, he’ll be looking for a top bantamweight contender fight.

“I gave him options to fight me,” Rivera said of Moraes. “Now, he said no four times. Well, I’m gonna go forward. I think I’ve earned it. I’ve fought top people. I’m 5-0 in the UFC in the bantamweight division.”