("Fight, you bastard. If you want to have a dance-off, I’ll kick your ass in that too.")
A hot topic of debate at Cage Potato lately is whether or not the recent trend of wrestlers who are content to win fights by earning decisions via take downs and lay and pray is hurting the sport.
We asked UFC middleweight Jorge Rivera for his opinion on the subject during the latest episode of The Bum Rush Radio Show and El Conquistador didn’t pull any punches when explaining his take on the issue.
Rivera, who squares off with fellow slugger Alessio Sakara tomorrow at UFC 122 in Germany, says that he specifically asked for the fight with the former pro-boxer because he knows that Legionarius, like him, is a fighter who always steps into the Octagon to fight.
"I asked for this fight. Alessio’s a great fight. He’s tough, he’s got great stand-up and he comes forward. I asked for this fight. I always want tough fights. I know he’s gonna bring it. I know it’s gonna be a tough fight. I know it’s no walk in the park," Rivera explains. "You’re gonna see a good stand-up brawl and one of us is gonna get knocked out. I’m alright with that. I give the fans what they want. This is what we do. We both no what we’re getting into and we both agree to it, so let’s do it."
He says that guys who time and time again seem to be content to take a decision by being conservative and just doing the minimum necessary to win are in essence stealing from the fans.
"I was a fan before I was ever a fighter. I’m still a fan and I’m a fan of even some of the guys I fight against. I like watching them fight for various reasons. I hate watching boring fighters. You’re gonna pay 50 bucks to sit at home and watch some guy be boring. They build up all this hype around this guy and a guy puts you to sleep and you’re like, ‘What the fuck!?’ I’m not the only one. You’ve got ten million people who say the same shit. That’s not what I want to do. I want to be the exact opposite," Rivera explains. "When my name is called up, I want people to be like, ‘Hell yeah!’ because they know there’s going to be a fight. Even with this fight they know their gonna get a fight with me and Alessio. They know that. Everybody knows that we’re gonna fight. I know he’s not gonna run from me, he knows I’m not gonna run from him, and you know we both throw bombs. You guys know you’re gonna get your money’s worth. If all nine of the fights suck, ours isn’t going to. You’re gonna remember our fight for sure. That’s what I want."
Although he didn’t name names, by process of elimination it would seem that Rivera was referring to Jake Shields when he mentioned the fighter who didn’t back up the hype that surrounded him, especially in the follow-up description.
"Some of these guys are round winners. They do just enough to win the round. If that’s what they want to be known as, cool, man. You do your thing and I’m gonna do mine. More people are gonna want to see my fights than they will yours. What good is it being a champion if no one can remember the last five guys you fought? What does that say? Everybody has their own reasons for doing their own things," he says. "They’re getting paid to do their thing and I’m not gonna knock anybody for doing what they do. I just choose to do it differently."
Having fought for 11 years, Rivera says one thing he learned early on is that being overcautious is not the way to make new fans.
"The worst thing is trying not to lose. That’s the worst thing. I’ve fought like that and I looked back at my performance and I was like, ‘That sucked. That fight sucked.’ I know I only have so many fights left in me. I want people to remember me. I want to be remembered as a guy who wasn’t afraid to fight and laid it on the line and showed the world his heart," he explains. "That’s what’s up. Say whatever you want to say about Jorge Rivera, but he fought every time. Every time he was on a freaking card, he came to fight. That’s what I want people to remember me by."
As a fan, Rivera says there are a number of fighters who he enjoys watching compete because, like him they know how to toe the line between being competitors and being performers, which are the two things he strives to be in every one of his fights.
"I love watching guys like Clay Guida, Diego Sanchez, Nate Diaz, Marcus Davis – they all come to fight and everyone wants to see them fight. When people hear they’re on the card they’re like, "Hell yeah! I can’t wait to see their fights,’ because they know they’re coming every single time. They know their jobs and they get it. That’s the problem, some of these guys don’t get it. You’re an entertainer. First and foremost you’re an entertainer. People pay money to be entertained by what you do. Take that into consideration when you’re in there banging out. That’s not to say you should throw caution into the wind and say, ‘Fuck it. I’m gonna wing it and hopefully I’ll connect with something.’ Use your strategy, do your thing and be smart, but come on, man, fight! Don’t run away from him. Fight him."
Jorge says that one thing that will return MMA to the exciting sport it used to be isn’t a change in the rules, but rather a revision to the way judges score a bout as a whole.
"We need to have a better scoring system. You have guys who play games. They run around the whole round and they get a takedown and they hold them down and they win the round. It’s bullshit. It’s not a fight, but they’re manipulating the system and they’re winning like that. They say, ‘H didn’t hurt me and I got the takedown — I took him down and I won the round like that.’ That’s great. You did a great job, buddy. Pat yourself on the back. Go home and sleep well. If that’s what you think a fight is, good for you," Rivera says. "A fight to me is two people engaging in a battle where one dominates the other or overpowers the other. In the process, it goes back and forth. That’s why it’s called a fight. It’s not easy, man. It goes back and forth or one guy just runs through the other guy; that happens too. It’s a contact sport. Make it a contact sport. Don’t bang out."