Former UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera returns after five-year layoff with brutal KO at XMMA


Former UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera returned after a five-year layoff with a brutal KO win over Ryan Lilley at XMMA.

Rivera previously fought for the UFC twice, in 2011 and then between 2012 and 2016. Overall, “Cisco” went 4-6, 1 NC in the UFC, with memorable knockout wins over Alex Caceres, George Roop, and Edwin Figueroa. However, after losing three straight fights between 2015 and 2016, the UFC released him after he failed a USADA drug test. USADA dropped the hammer on Rivera for using the banned substance clenbuterol, and he has been on the sidelines ever since July 2016.

Now that his suspension is up, Rivera is not wasting time, as he got back into the cage at the XMMA event on Saturday night that featured James Vick getting knocked out by Andre Fialho. In the co-main event, Rivera needed less than one full round to go in there and knock Lilley out in a brutal fashion. Watch the video of the KO below.

It’s a fantastic win for Rivera, who at age 39 looked sharp and fast in this fight. Considering he hadn’t fought since UFC 201 — the same night that Tyron Woodley knocked out Robbie Lawler to win the UFC welterweight title — seeing him get back in the cage and land the knockout blow on an experienced regional-level fighter like Lilley is impressive. It might not be the win that gets Rivera back into the UFC, but it can’t hurt. It should be mentioned the fight against Lilley was contested at 140lbs.

Now that Rivera beat Lilley, look for him to try and get back into the cage as soon as he can. It’s possible the UFC could call him back up to re-join the promotion’s bantamweight or featherweight divisions. Remember, Rivera was an exciting fighter who had an absolute slugfest with John Lineker. Bellator could also look to sign the California native, plus PFL could be interested in him in a future tournament, as well.

Do you want to see Francisco Rivera return to the UFC following this latest KO win?

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