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2020 hasn’t been the best year for anyone, but it’s been especially rough for Jimmie Rivera.
Things took a turn for the positive on Wednesday, as he earned a three-round verdict over Cody Stamman in a featured featherweight contest at UFC on ESPN 13 at the Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Both Rivera and Stamann were fighting up a division after accepting the fight on extremely short notice.
While Rivera wasn’t overly pleased with his performance, he nonetheless delivered a workmanlike effort to capture his first victory since September 2018.
“I’m a perfectionist, I’m very hard on myself when it comes to things,” Rivera said. “Even the wins I’ve had in the past, always in my head, there’s more I can do, there’s better than I can do. It was tough, taking the fight on three days’ notice and not being where I want cardio-wise, but it was an opportunity. I had to step in and take it. The UFC asked and I returned, I was thankful that they asked and gave me a shot.”
Rivera hadn’t competed since dropping a decision to newly-crowned bantamweight king Petr Yan at UFC 238. In between fights, Rivera has been plagued by injuries and illness.
“I’ve been out for a year, there were so many mishaps and things that happened,” he said. “I was supposed to fight in February. I had a herniated disk in my neck and pinched nerves in my arms, so it was a tough thing I had to recover from. In March, myself getting COVID at the end of March and my wife getting it in May, and then other personal things we’ve been dealing with al home, 2020 has been a s—-y year.
“Today was a little bit better, obviously I wanted a better performance, but just coming back and being able to get back in there was an opportunity that I wanted. Thank you to UFC for letting me take this opportunity.”
As someone who has already tested positive for COVID-19, Rivera has a heightened awareness regarding the disease. That said, he had nothing but praise for the UFC’s safety protocols on “Fight Island.”
“It’s a hell of a ride, plus dealing with the whole COVID stuff, but I can tell you one thing – UFC hands down, Abu Dhabi, they had us,” Rivera said. “I’ve been tested four times in the last week, came up negative. They’ve been testing everyone, keeping distance. They’re super professional and doing everything right, and I really get mad at people who talk s—t about the UFC because they’re doing everything right and they’re getting shows put on and I just love it. I love to be able to be part of the UFC and for them to do this.”
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