Having come off a win in his sole bout of 2019, flyweight Jerome Rivera was able to keep his winning ways going when he had his first bout of 2020.
Facing Kendrick Latchman at LFA 80 in January, Rivera was able to get a second-round submission, picking up his second straight win in the process.
“I feel like was a good fight for me to return back to the LFA,” Rivera told MMAWeekly.com. “A couple of things I wanted to work on in that fight was trying to control my emotions a little bit, and being a little bit more of a professional and trying to see things come at me.
“I think I’ve shown more striking than I have in the past. I still wasn’t entirely happy with my performance, but I feel I did a lot better than I have in the past, and overall it was a good night for me. I really enjoyed it.”
Following the win, Rivera was facing a setback due to the lockdown enforced by the novel coronavirus, but he was able to overcome training issues created by the quarantine to work on his game to a satisfactory level.
“Right after the Latchman fight I knew I wanted to make it a point to stay active during the off season and get into a good regimen of actively lifting and running and still doing martial arts,” said Rivera. “In March the quarantine shut gyms where I’m at. I was like, ‘I’ve got to stay creative, got to stay working, got to keep grinding’.
“I started hitting a lot of runs with my teammates, getting in some good mitt work, doing anything we can, and it was a great training camp. I’ve been grinding since March and I feel really good. I’m feeling healthy. I’m in a good state mentally. I’m ready to roll.”
On Aug. 4 in Las Vegas, Rivera (9-2) will look to pick up his third win in a row when he faces Luis Rodriguez (11-1) in a 125-pound main card bout at Dana White Contender Series 2020: Week 1.
“Rodriguez looks like a really tough Muay Thai fighter,” Rivera said. “He looks like he has a lot of heart. I think striking is definitely his strong point.
“I think for me the key to victory is staying composed, fighting like a professional, seeing everything coming at me, and sticking to my game plan. If I strike the way I should and grapple the way I’m planning to, execute my game plan, I think it’s going to be a good night for me.”
Having seemingly been on the cusp of making his move up to the UFC a couple times in the past, Rivera isn’t going to look beyond Aug. 4 towards bigger things.
“I’m just trying to focus on one fight at a time,” said Rivera. “When I fought Brandon Royval, when I fought Roberto Sanchez, I was kind of looking ahead a little bit. I had heard rumors about getting signed to the UFC and I kind of let my mind wander to other places.
“Especially after that Brandon fight I learned that you never know what’s going to happen the next night. I’m just focused on what’s right in front of me.”