Following his last fight in the UFC in February of 2021, it’s been over a year of waiting to return to fighting for featherweight Jimmie Rivera.
Now after a long wait, Rivera shifts gears and enters a new combat sports venue as he drops the gloves and prepares for his upcoming bare-knuckle boxing debut.
“It’s been a rough year with getting fights, but I’ve been training, getting ready and really focusing on my boxing,” Rivera told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s nice to just be able to focus on one art form rather than having to focus on all the things you have to do when you train for MMA.”
For Rivera, making the move to fighting without gloves comes with a need for added precision as missing the mark could have bigger risk of injury.
“You have to be more accurate with your shots,” said Rivera. “Especially in bare knuckle where there’s no cushion, no forgiveness if you mess up a shot. In MMA you have to worry about kicks and takedowns, so those are things you can take away when you’re having a bare knuckle fight.”
On June 24 in Hollywood, Florida, Rivera (0-0 bare-knuckle) makes his promotional debut when he takes on Howard Davis (2-0 bare-knuckle) at BKFC 26 in a main card 145-pound bout.
“Howard Davis is a tough opponent,” Rivera said. “He’s undefeated right now in bare knuckle. He’s got reach on me, so I’ve got to get him where he’s not comfortable and get it into my territory.
“I can’t really say where the fight is going to go; if Howard wants to stay in the pocket it could be a very exciting fight, or if he plays the long game it will be a more technical fight. When you fight someone it depends on how they react (to determine how the fight will go). It all depends on how Howard shows up and what his game plan is.”
Following a long layoff, Rivera is looking to make an explosive debut and hopefully have a busier second half of 2022 than a start.
“Obviously I want to get a knockout and make a statement, but also you’ve got to be smart about it,” said Rivera. “Sometimes when you brawl you fight with emotion, and when you do that it messes you up and gets in the way of getting that win.
“I’d like to get in two more fights. My whole goal was to get in three or four fights this year. I’m off to a rough start this year. Hopefully after this I can bet a couple more fights before the year is up.”