When it comes down to it, Jimmie Rivera simply can not postpone his honeymoon any longer.
Due to a long list of unfortunate circumstances, it appears Rivera will likely go nearly one full year between fights.
The UFC has offered him a bantamweight fight against Marlon Moraes on Feb. 24, but Rivera says that’s not feasible, because he’s scheduled to go on his honeymoon earlier that month. According to Rivera, the UFC was aware of his schedule prior to offering the fight.
Rivera (21-1) has been married since 2016, and already postponed the honeymoon twice. He was scheduled to face former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 219 last month, but Cruz fell out with a broken arm. Rivera is hopeful the UFC will return to that matchup this spring.
“I started at the bottom and worked my way to the top,” said Rivera, who is 5-0 in the UFC. “I took a lot of fights people didn’t want, and I won those fights.
“I don’t ask for much, but I think I’ve proven that I deserve to fight the top contenders like Dominick or [former champion Cody Garbrandt].”
The injury to Cruz threw a serious wrench into Rivera’s 2017, but he tried to work with the UFC when it happened.
He accepted a replacement opponent in John Lineker, but then Lineker withdrew from the bout during fight week with a tooth infection.
At that time, the UFC proposed another replacement in Moraes (20-5), which Rivera accepted. He even accepted at a higher weight, due to the short notice. Ultimately Moraes, who had recently fought twice in the span of one month, wasn’t available.
The UFC made one last offer in John Dodson, a southpaw who has lost two of his last three fights. Rivera didn’t feel that fight made sense, and asked to face Moraes at UFC 220 on Jan. 20. That timeframe was still too early for Moraes, who was understandably enjoying time off after a busy finish to 2017.
Rivera says he wasn’t compensated for the ordeal at UFC 219, meaning he suffered financial loss on his camp. He also missed out on celebrating the holidays with his family.
“It is what it is,” Rivera said. “I’m not going to sit here and pout. They said they won’t do anything about that, I just have to get back to work.”
But Rivera’s focus is now on enjoying his honeymoon and returning to a fight against Cruz or Garbrandt — not Moraes.
That matchup has picked up steam, after it was teased as a late replacement at UFC 219 and now Feb. 24. Rivera, however, has his sights back where they were before this all started.
“I know people love to say, ‘You’re scared,'” Rivera said. “I have 22 fights. I don’t fear anybody. But I have to do what’s best for me.
“Is Marlon going to get me a title shot? No. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed title shot in the UFC, which I understand. It’s a business. I don’t dwell on that. But I know that a lot of people are going to want to see me fight for a belt if I beat Cruz or Garbrandt. I was supposed to get that fight, let’s stick to that.”