Last Saturday, on the main card of UFC 203, New Jersey’s Jimmie Rivera defeated Urijah Faber by unanimous decision. It was undoubtedly the biggest win of the bantamweight contender’s career.
Now an incredible 20-1 overall, and an deeply-embedded member of the bantamweight division’s top-10, Rivera is undoubtedly is now ready for another big step up the ladder. And while he’s currently dealing with a fairly serious eye injury, he says he’s already got an opponent in mind for his next fight.
Because he believes the streaking Cody Garbrandt will get the next crack at UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, Rivera is interested in a scrap with former champion TJ Dillashaw. If he were to win this fight, he believes he’d deserve a shot at the winner of a possible Cruz vs. Garbrandt bout.
“[TJ Dillashaw] would be my top choice,” Rivera told Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour. “You’ve got Cody [Garbrandt] and [Dominick] Cruz, and Dillashaw really wants a rematch with Cruz, but Cruz doesn’t want it and the UFC’s not giving it to him right away. So I figure if I fight Dillashaw that basically puts us as number-one-contenders. So who ever gets that win between Cruz and Cody, if I beat Dillashaw that gets me the opportunity to be the number-one-contender and be able to fight them.”
In his interview with Helwani, Rivera also offered up his prediction for the Cruz vs. Garbrandt fight he believes will be booked.
“I think Cody [will win] if he connects that right hand of his,” Rivera said. “but Cruz is a very very smart fighter with everything he does. I’ve seen him, I’ve watched him so much, you know, he’s in my weight class so it’s very important for me to study him, and he does stuff to bate you and he does all these things. I feel like a lot of people haven’t fought him the correct way. There’s a certain way you have to fight him and a lot of guys haven’t done that yet.”
“I think I’m gonna have to go with Cruz in that fight.”
Are you interested in a potential Rivera vs. Dillashaw fight, and do you think the winner would deserve a bantamweight title fight? Sound off, PENN nation!