UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera spoke with Bloody Elbow to talk the bantamweight title picture, answer if would he fight Lineker even if he misses weight, and why he must finish his foe before the 3rd round.
Jimmie Rivera has won 20 fights in a row with 5-straight in the UFC, and is currently ranked #4 in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Looking to position himself next in line for a shot at the title, Rivera is headed to UFC 219 on December 30, 2017 to take on the heavy handed #6 ranked John Lineker. Before ending the 2017 calendar year in Las Vegas, Rivera caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss his unanimous nod over Thomas Almeida, why he must finish Lineker in under two rounds, and his future plans for after he wins the UFC belt.
Saturday’s UFC 219 main card will air live on Pay-Per-View at 10:00 P.M. EST with the prelims starting at 8:00 P.M. EST on FS1. The Exclusive Fight Pass prelims will begin at 7 P.M. EST
- Earning a unanimous decision over Thomas Almeida UFC on FOX 25 this past July, even picking up a 30-26 on one of the scorecards:
“I wanted to get the finish, but let me tell you, he’s tough. He’s not 21-2 for nothing. I gave him his 2nd loss, his 1st one from the previous champ Cody. The guy’s tough. I beat him at his own game, standup, and I tried to get the finish but I couldn’t get it. he’s a tough guy. It was a hard matchup, but we put on a good show and fans enjoyed it.”
- Did anything about Almeida surprise you at all?
“Yeah, he kept getting up, haha. He kept getting up. We were ready for his jump knee kick, but I like how he switched it up. He threw a jump front kick. So, every time he threw the jump knee kick I knew it was coming. Then he started adding the jump front kick in there and caught me a couple of times. I’m not going to lie, it was good kicks. Besides that, that’s the only thing that we saw a little different.”
- Did you expect T.J. Dillashaw was going to knock out Cody Garbrandt to win the UFC bantamweight belt at UFC 217?
“I wasn’t expecting T.J. to get a knockout. If anything, maybe a decision if he was going to win. I think Cody had him hurt, and got a little relaxed in that 2nd round and got caught. With more time in the 1st round, I think Cody would have won the fight, but the bell rung, T.J. got back with his wits. In that 2nd round, he got dazed with a kick and didn’t see that hook coming, and then T.J. took full advantage of it.”
- For UFC 219, you were originally slated to face Dominick Cruz, who pulled out due to injury (big shocker), but now will face the #6 bantamweight in the world, John Lineker. Are you happy with the matchup?
“Yeah, I mean it’s a different gameplan, but I’m happy with the matchup. He’s been around for awhile. I wanted to be there for the UFC and they wanted to keep me on the card. We just had to work out the details. I’m a team player. The only problem was that Cody was hurt, Dominick was hurt already, so we were trying to fight up. [Raphael] Assuncao, we were waiting to see if he was hurt or not; he was hurt. So, we have all three guys that are in front of me, besides the champ, are hurt. They’re trying to work on the [Demetrious] Johnson fight, supposedly, with T.J. so the next best thing was Lineker, who is right behind me.”
- Were you impressed with Lineker’s recent performance against Marlon Vera?
“I think that’s what was going to happen. Chito Vera doesn’t have takedowns, doesn’t have any hands, only has kicks. Lineker is a boxer/brawler. He went in there and Chito didn’t have much to answer with. The guy’s tough, don’t get me wrong, he can take a punch and a kick, so he kept coming forward, but Chito had no answers for him.”
- Lineker is a brawler. It’s no secret as to what he’s looking to do. Are you willing to stand in front of him and give Lineker the fight he wants?
“Honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen until we get there and I feel it out. When I fought [Urijah] Faber, I just stopped him in every aspect. Like, he tried to do anything on me, and I just stopped him. So, I don’t know how the fight is going to play out. I got to see how the 1st round goes and go from there… I never go into a fight with one gameplan. I always have three, four, or even five gameplans and I’m just going to feel it out.”
- Looking to avoid getting his balls busted by finishing Lineker faster than teammate Louis Gaudinot, who owns a 2nd submission win over Lineker from a UFC flyweight fight in 2012:
“My teammate Louis Gaudinot fought Lineker at [125 pounds] and they brawled it out. Louis lands some good shots. Louis was more on the inside and Lineker was on the outside. Lineker got rocked, I’m not going to lie. He got rocked, went in for a takedown and he just put him to sleep. He just tapped him out with a Guillotine and that was it. So, I have to try and win this fight before the 2nd round, supposedly, or I’m getting my balls busted for the rest of my life, which I already do so it doesn’t matter, haha.”
- Did Gaudinot have green hair when he choked out Lineker?
“He had long green hair. He’ll be out there. He always comes out to all of my fights. He’ll be out there with me. He always helps me get ready. He’s very good at mimicking people, so we always have a good time, him and I. My teammates in general are all great. They help me out so much.”
- If John Lineker misses weight, will you still fight him?
“Yeah, I would still fight him. Why wouldn’t I fight him? That’s never crossed my mind. I’m pretty sure he’ll show up on the nose. I don’t know. I mean, he’s had plenty of time. How many weeks out were we when we announced the fight? Maybe a month, month and a half out? He was already in shape. He just finished a fight two or three weeks prior to that. I mean, it all depends. If he doesn’t, yeah, I’m still going to fight; I’m just going to enjoy some of his purse.”
- 136 pounds or bust:
“It’s not going to be any catchweight, though. They’re like, oh we’ll do a catch.’ Oh na, 136 and I get some of his purse.”
- With a win, is there any logical reason why you won’t be next in line for a title shot?
“It all depends on what the UFC says. I haven’t thought passed it yet; I’ve thought a little bit passed it, but I haven’t really dwelled on it. It all depends on what the UFC says and goes from there, and what fights and matchups they’re going to make. You got both Dom and Cody who are on a loss, so obviously it makes sense for them to fight each other. That’s a good rubber match. Then, you got Raphael Assuncao who’s on a three or four-fight win streak right now. I think what makes the most sense is that if T.J. does drop and fights Demetrious Johnson, they should do an interim belt, or the #1 contender fight should be the me and Assuncao fight.”
- We’ve heard you say in the past that the rankings don’t really matter, but what about the belt?
“I got in the UFC, not to be a UFC fighter, but to be the champ, and that’s the main goal, to win the belt. So, whatever it takes to win the belt, that’s what I want to do. Some people who are thrown at me, I’m like, ‘that’s not going to help me fight and get to the belt, so that doesn’t make sense.’ Other fights we’re like, ‘yeah, that makes sense. Let’s do it.’ I figure, Cody got on a five-fight winning streak and then got a title shot; alright if I beat Lineker, that’s six ights in a row. Something’s got to happen.”
- After becoming the champion, what would be your goal; to defend the title or chase super fights?
“Defend the title. Defend the title, unless the UFC has something special they want to do. Defend the title. That’s really it… When it comes down to it, I’m going to defend it. All these people, I want to rule the weight class. All these people want to fight, but if he [Dana White] does say, ‘hey listen, I want you to fight 145, we want to do a money fight,’ can’t say no. He’s my boss. It all depends on what they say.”
Watch Jimmie Rivera do battle with John Lineker at UFC 219 on December 30, 2017. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!