Exclusive: TUF 16 Fighter Joey Rivera BJPenn.Com Blog #6

November 16, 2012 8:57 am by Bryan Levick


Bio: Welterweight Champion Joey “Boom Boom” Rivera (7-1) is currently a competitor on this season of The Ultimate Fighter™ Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson, where he recently shocked the world by defeating Carwin’s #1 pick, Sam Alvey. Rivera resides in Tucson, AZ where he is the owner and head coach of APEX MMA. The 4X Judo State Champion also coaches wrestling at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson and instructs MMA at the University of Arizona (U of A).

Fans can follow Rivera on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JoeyBoomBoomRivera and on Twitter @Joeyboomboom.

This week, Julian was up to the same thing and went crazy on our teammate, Colton. They hung out all the time and were pretty much best friends in the house so I didn’t expect them to go at it. It just goes to show you how stressful it was for us living in that house, for two good friends to purposely try and fight each other.

The fight was Ricci versus Dom. Mike Ricci said he was the “underdog” but how can you be an underdog if you train with GSP and the other best fighters in the world? He didn’t have to even try out for the show. So, in my opinion, he was not an underdog for TUF 16; he was a top prospect and he fought like it too. He’s really smooth and technical.  His style reminds me a little bit of my own, which to me is a great compliment, given he trains at Tristar with the best. Dom was playing into Ricci’s game in the first round with the stand-up, but finally figured out that his wrestling was working on Ricci in the second round. If he wrestled him more in the fight, he would have won. In the end, Ricci won two rounds fair and square, and the judges actually were correct on this one.

The match-ups for the upcoming quarterfinals were pretty surprising. Colton versus Igor everyone expected, but Ricci versus Hill was weird because everyone understood that they weren’t going to fight each other. In the beginning they made a pact with each other not to fight. They were good friends and confided in each other about a lot of stuff.  Seeing on TV that Ricci basically turned his back on Hill and requested to fight him was a surprise, because after the match-up, Ricci said that the coaches asked him to fight Hill. I don’t think Hill even believed Coach Nelson when he said that Ricci wanted to fight him. Now, I know that the whole time he was lying. It was a pretty low of a move of Ricci, not necessarily that he chose to fight Hill, but more that he played Hill the whole time. Hill’s my boy so I could tell it hurt his feelings. Also, Ricci was the only person who got the fight he asked for. Just thought I’d point that out.

I decided not to show all my cards when the coaches and Dana asked me who I wanted to fight. I was pretty convinced I would not get to fight who I would have asked for, because they could potentially use that information against me, so I stayed quiet. That didn’t make a difference, because they matched me with someone who I preferred not to fight because they were a friend and teammate.  Jon Manley and I hung out at tryouts and trained A LOT together so we knew each others’ styles. But, in the end it’s all about what Dana wants, not us.

Don’t miss the quarterfinals in the next episode.

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