Over the course of the past two years, bantamweight up and comer Zac Riley has reinvigorated his career with a string of wins, including two over previously undefeated prospects.
“I was 2-3 when I started my winning streak against Shai Lindsey,” Riley told MMAWeekly.com. “I went in there and had fun. I’ve continued to do that.
“It’s definitely given me confidence. And I know when I’m having fun I do have that chance to take over or beat anybody I want. Whenever I can put my mind to it I can do it.
Because of the inconsistent start of his career, Riley was a heavy underdog in his recent wins – including a bout against Hugo Viana where he was the largest betting upset in MMA history – but it’s a role he relishes in playing.
“I’ve gotten the nickname of ‘The Upset King’ because I’m always the underdog,” said Riley. “It helps. I like living up to that. It is nice to be the only one to defeat them. It is a good feeling. I do take pride in it.”
With his recent success has come more attention, which is not always something that Riley enjoys, but is nonetheless able to set aside as he focuses on fighting.
“There’s a part of me that likes it, but there’s a part of me that’s scared of fame,” Riley said. “I like my peace. I don’t let it get to me. I don’t let it get to my head. It’s something I’m able to do mentally to keep on my side.”
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Riley (5-3) will look to pick up his fourth straight victory when he takes on Jerome Rivera (5-0) in a main card 135-pound bout on Friday in Pueblo, Colo.
“I think I’m going to have to overwhelm him and beat him at his own game,” Riley said of Rivera. “I’ll just bring the heat to him and we’ll see how well he can handle pressure and how well he can take a punch.”
While Riley now has placed himself in a position to make a move to up in his career, the most important thing to him is to keep his winning ways going in 2017.
“I want to take my three wins in a row and make it four or five, or possibly even six in the past two years,” said Riley. “I want to keep staying undefeated. I don’t want to lose a fight again. I’m not comfortable with that.”