After kicking off his 2016 with a win over Jose Ceja at Legacy FC 52 in March, bantamweight prospect Irwin Rivera ended up closing out his year with a loss to Ceja seven months later at Combate Americas 9.
Looking back on his rematch with Ceja, Rivera admits he wasn’t as prepared as he should have been, and has since made changes to his game to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“The second fight was a rough time in my life,” Rivera told MMAWeekly.com. “I had a bunch of things going on; a lot personally. I should have never even had the fight. Financially I needed the money. I had my baby girl who was about to be born. I just had a lot of stuff going on and my head wasn’t there. It just didn’t go my way.
“Ever since that (second) fight it’s been six months. I took a lot of time off to have my baby and enjoy that. I’ve changed a lot of things after that fight. In ways it was kind of a blessing. It exposed something that I thought I needed, I found I needed, and I fixed all those errors.”
While a rubber match with Ceja is something that Rivera immediately wants, it could be a fight that would interest him down the line if it proves advantageous to his career.
“I hope (Ceja) does great with his career, because in the future it might make for a good championship fight,” said Rivera. “I’m not one to hold personal grudges against anybody. I would love a third match, but he would have to be doing something great with his career, so we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Rivera (5-2) will look to rebound in his first bout of 2017 when he takes on Kevin Natividad (2-0) in a 135-pound co-main event of Combate Americas 13 in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday.
“I’ve been in his position,” Rivera said of Natividad. “He’s looking to make a name for himself and take advantage of a great opportunity in front of him. He’s going to come strong. He’s going to come ready. And I expect that. I look forward to that. I have an answer for everything that he has. All I know is that I’m going to get that win.”
Should Rivera pick up the win Thursday night, he’ll have evened his record for Combate Americas, and will then seek to work his way towards title contention for the promotion.
“I came into Combate to become a champion,” said Rivera. “I will be champion. It is inevitable. I’m making sure that I take my time with everything I do and that I’m doing it right. I’m going to be champion for Combate. After that, we’ll see where it goes.”