Jerome Rivera knows his UFC 264 fight against Zhalgas Zhumagulov is do-or-die for his UFC career.
Rivera enters the fight being 0-3 in the UFC and not many fighters get the fourth fight if they are winless through three. Yet, Rivera did the UFC a favor in taking a fight against Ode Osbourne up two weight classes at featherweight on just three day’s notice. With that, the UFC promised him another fight regardless of the result and they stuck to their word.
“I was promised another fight. They told me they knew I started off 0-2 but they needed someone to fight Ode Osbourne at featherweight and the UFC told me it would be a fight off-contract and they’d still give me another fight regardless of what happens,” Rivers said to BJPENN.com on Wednesday. “A lot of people looked at me like why did I take that fight on like three days’ notice and looking back it wasn’t the smartest decision, but I was promised experience and I know with every single fight I get in that Octagon I get better. But, after I lost, I was a little worried, like who knows, maybe they may not keep their promise. Sure enough, a month later they had another matchup for me to fight at UFC 264.”
Not only is Rivera getting a chance to get his first UFC win but he’ll also do it on a Conor McGregor card which he says is surreal.
“It’s just starting to sink in that I’m fighting on one of the biggest cards of the year,” Rivera said. “I also get to fight on a Conor McGregor card like it’s something I’ll get to tell my daughter and grandkids.”
Ultimately, Jerome Rivera knows the stakes are high for this fight. He’s not putting it bluntly as he knows with a loss he will be released from the UFC. However, he says he isn’t worried about that as instead, he’s focused on fighting like himself which he hasn’t done so far in the UFC.
“There’s pressure on me but at the same time, I’ve dealt with losses before. The biggest thing for me is to go out there and give it 100 percent,” Rivera explained. “In all my UFC fights, I’ve been hesitant to do things and haven’t been able to fight how I usually fight. I’m not worried about losing but what would upset me is if I don’t fight 100 percent. I plan on going out there and fighting my ass off and if I do that, I know I’ll win.”
In the end, Jerome Rivera is confident he will get his first UFC win by dominating Zhalgas Zhumagulov. He says his massive height and reach advantage will allow him to piece him up and likely win a decision as he knows his foe is hard to finish.
“I don’t think he’s very technical and that’s what I’m looking to expose him. He is very hard to finish so I probably have to put the dude to sleep or something,” Rivera concluded. “I just see myself shutting him down everywhere, on the feet, the clinch, and in wrestling. If the finish comes, it comes, but I see myself shutting this dude down.”
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