Last night, in the first bout of the UFC Long Island main card, streaking bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera stepped into the cage with venomous Brazilian striker Thomas Almeida. After three fun rounds of fighting, Rivera was awarded a unanimous decision win. With this outcome, he improved to an incredible 21-1, and further cemented himself as one of the bantamweight division’s premier contenders.
With this win in the rear-view, Rivera set his sights on either TJ Dillashaw, who was scheduled for a UFC 213 title fight with reigning champ Cody Garbrandt until Garbrandt withdrew with an injury, and former champion Dominick Cruz.
Post-fight, Rivera weighed in on this latter possibility specifically.
Cruz, who has not fought since he lost the title to Garbrandt in December, has repeatedly suggested that he wants the next shot at the Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw winner. In Rivera’s opinion, however, Cruz shouldn’t be allowed to just sit around and wait for a title shot. He believes the former champ should stay active.
“Hopefully this leads to fighting for an interim belt or fighting Cruz for the number one spot,” Rivera told MMAFighting.com shortly after his victory in Long Island. “At the end of the day, he’s sitting on the bench right now and he thinks he deserves a title shot. Either defend your spot or get out of the way.”
Since joining the UFC fold in mid 2015, Rivera has knocked out Marcus Brimage, and scored decision wins over top flight foes in Pedro Munhoz, Iuri Alcantara, Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida. He hasn’t lost since his second pro bout, which occured all the way back in 2008.
Do you think Jimmie Rivera and Dominick Cruz should fight for the bantamweight number one contender spot while we wait for Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw to settle their score?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/23/2017.