For his fight with Treston Thomison at Bellator 174 in March, featherweight up and comer Emmanuel Rivera was able to overcome stepping in at short notice and not being as in shape as he could have been to get the victory.
“I took that fight on about three and a half weeks’ notice, so I was pretty heavy and didn’t feel as great as I usually do going into a fight, but it turned out well,” Rivera told MMAWeekly.com. “I was still training, but my diet wasn’t as good as it should have been. I came out with a win. (Thomison) was a tough guy but it felt great (to get the win).”
Over the course of his first two years fighting as a pro, Rivera has maintained a busy schedule, usually fighting every couple months. Rivera is able to offset the short amount of time between bouts by focusing on a style he’s used from the start rather than trying to reinvent himself each time out.
“I’m always trying to get as well-rounded as possible, and while in two months you can change some, you can’t change a whole lot,” said Rivera. “It takes a lot of work to improve a lot. You can only improve so much.
“My style has always been the same: I like to go out there, stand up and make it exciting. I’m a lot more precise now. I’m a lot more patient. I can think more clearly in there and am a little more calm. I like my style, so I keep it, so I just try to get harder to deal with for my opponents.”
On Friday in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Rivera (6-0) takes on Justin Rader (6-2) in a 145-pound main card clash of styles at Legacy Fighting Alliance 15.
“I think he’s a little behind on the stand-up and it isn’t that great,” Rivera said of Rader. “He doesn’t have great hands. I think I’ll be able to expose that.
“His ground game kind of levels things out for him; I know he’s really good on the ground, but this is MMA, you’re going to get punched in the midst of things. We’ve seen his chin, and it isn’t the most durable thing, so I think I’ll be able to catch it eventually and put him away.”
Though Rivera is foremost focused on Friday night, he does acknowledge he has a goal he wants to accomplish by year’s end.
“I always focus on the thing that’s in front of me, but I want to be a champion this year,” said Rivera. “After this winning this fight, I’ll be 7-0, so I think after this fight I’ll need a contract or need a belt. I want to go in there and ruin someone’s champion. So that’s my goal: to be a champion this year.”