Jorge Rivera’s heart weighs heavy this weekend

» Posted by on Aug 3, 2011 in Jorge Rivera | 0 comments

From our friends at MMA

When he hits the scales Friday in Philadelphia for his fight the next day at UFC 133, Jorge Rivera will not be thinking much about his opponent, Costa Philippou.

“You’re the first (people) I have told this to, but the day of the weigh-ins for this fight will be the third anniversary of (my daughter’s) passing,” Rivera told Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.

Janessa Rivera died Aug. 5, 2008 due to an unexpected reaction to medication. She was 17 years old.

“I’ll be more than ready for this fight,” said Rivera, whose homage to Janessa includes a tattoo on his chest. ”I’ll be motivated and I’ll be thinking about it the whole time.”

It’s been nearly eight years since Rivera (Twitter: @Jorge_Conquista) won his promotional debut against David Loiseau at UFC 44. Rivera, who made an appearance on the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter, has an overall MMA record of 19-8. ”El Conquistador” has a marginally positive record of 7-6 in the UFC after his 3-1 run, which he hopes to continue Saturday in Philadelphia at UFC 133, regardless of opponent.

The 39-year-old took time to talk about life and his upcoming fight against Philippou, a late replacement, Rizzo and Fullerton on Rear Naked Choke Radio, which can be heard on the MMA DieHards Radio Network at (@mmadiehards).

Rivera was slated for the third time to fight Alessio Sakara, who pulled out of the fight due to a torn ACL. Replacing Sakara 10 days out was Philippou, who was moved to the main card from his preliminary match against Rafael “Sapo” Natal. The experienced Rivera has seen this happen before. Luck plays a role in twists of fate.

“Its just a blip in the radar, because it happens,” Rivera explained. “Its unfortunate that it happened 10 days out, because it didn’t give me much time to scout my new opponent. Luckily my new opponent is similar to my last opponent. They are similar in strengths on their feet and that is where the majority of the fight is going to take place, so there’s not much to change.”

Rivera’s last fight was a loss was against TUF 3 winner Michael Bisping, which came with a spectacle of smack talk and insulting Internet videos. The overwhelming hype nearly made the match overshadow the main event of UFC 127 in February, the draw between B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch. Coming into this fight, the otherwise mild-mannered Rivera showed his flexibility and effort that goes into hyping a fight.

“I can do either or, man. At the end of the day I’m in the business of entertaining people,” Rivera said. “If they’re entertained by all the videos and smack talking, that’s no problem. Either way, if we’re cool with each other or not, we still have to go in there and try to knock each others’ block off, that’s what we do for a living. I’m still going to go in there and go at him, so I can handle it whichever way it comes.”

A common question asked by many was brought to the table by Rizzo: “Are you still not cool with Bisping?”

“I don’t talk to the man and I don’t have much to say to him,” confessed Rivera. “I would definitely love to fight him again.”

Since the Bisping performance, it has been rumored that Rivera is considering retirement.

“Nah, I’m just living life day-to-day and one day at a time,” expressed Rivera, who recently signed a new four-fight deal with the UFC. “I’m enjoying today and hopefully tomorrow will be better than today. If this fight goes great, you‘ll see me keep doing it. If not? It all depends on how much punishment my body takes and whether or not I win or lose. I’m just taking it day by day.”

If Rivera comes away with a win against Philppou, he can look forward to a couple of options for his next fight. The first is the long-awaited match with Sakara, the less likely would be a rematch with Bisping.

“If they want me to fight them, I’ll fight them,” Rivera said. “I’m an employee, they’re my bosses, if that’s what they want, if that is what the fans want to see, then that’s what I’ll do. I’m not too picky on those things at all, so who ever they ask me to (fight), that is who I’m going to fight.”

Nine years ago — before he was in the UFC — Rivera experienced the pivotal point in his MMA career and explained the details to an intrigued Rizzo and Fullerton.

“In my fight against Travis Lutter, I was at a crossroads and I was actually going through a divorce at the time,” revealed Rivera. “I spent a lot of time training to be a fighter and I was at a point in my life where I was wondering if I should really be doing this anymore. I have a strong belief in my God and I got on my knees and said, ‘If I’m supposed to be doing this, grant me the strength and show me the way.’ When I fought that fight I had the flu and I was so sick and still won the fight.

“Feeling so sick and then feeling so good that I won, broken as physically as I felt, emotionally and spiritually I was on a high. I think that fight stands out the most and later on in life. I have a good friend, Travis, and Travis is someone I call a friend and care for. That fight right there is the one that I’ll remember the most.”

While he has fond memories of the way things turned out that night with Lutter, a different kind of remembrance will occupy Jorge Rivera’s mind this weekend.

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