Blog post

Legacy Fighting Alliance 39 – Jerome Rivera

By Lance Edwards

 

It’s been a year since we saw Jerome Rivera (7-1). His last fight was at LFA 14 for the flyweight title. Unfortunately, the bout didn’t go his way, and Roberto Sanchez (8-1) won the bout in the third round via arm lock, before moving on to the UFC. Rivera returns at LFA 39 to face Brandon Royval (6-3) and is looking to show that he deserves another shot at the title. Rivera feels the best he has ever felt, physically and mentally, following his year off;

“The year off from fighting wasn’t my choice. After the last fight, I took a little time as I’d had fight camps back to back but was back in the gym in August. I think there have been struggles to matchup flyweights in LFA. My opponent Brandon hasn’t had a fight for a while. I’ve been getting better mentally and physically. All in all, the time off has done me good.”

Obviously the fight at LFA 14 against Sanchez didn’t go as planned, but Rivera feels he learned some good lessons from the experience;

“It was upsetting, I had a game plan. I had worked on the game plan with my coaches a lot ahead of the fight. When I got in there, I forgot the plan. I was grappling with him and sometimes I was winning. I should have used my range and kept him at bay. I shouldn’t have grappled the grappler. I learned that I need to stick to the plan and have worked on all sorts of details since then.”

For Rivera, a career in MMA has been a long time goal of his;

“When I was younger, in elementary school, I would go to the park with my friends. We would watch WWE and would tap each other. I was pretty good at it and thought I’d give it a try. One day I went to a Jiu Jitsu school and fell in love. On the first day, I caught a guy who was 180 lb in a triangle. The coach asked me how I knew to do that, and I told him I’d watched the UFC. I started watching the UFC with my dad around the time it was Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. Me and my dad would watch the events and wrestle around.”

Starting out, initially learning grappling, Rivera trained hard;

“I knew from the start MMA was something I wanted to do, but (I) had to learn to grapple. I did Jiu Jitsu for 4-6 months, 5 times a day. My coach Joshua Montoya was getting ready for a fight. He needed training partners so I started as his sparring partner. I had to go full force to keep up. From 16-18 I competed in Jiu Jitsu, boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai. I won an amateur title in kickboxing. I had fifteen amateur fights, 11 kickboxing/ Muay Thai and 4 MMA before going pro.”

As a result, he became experienced in striking and grappling situations. One of Rivera’s greatest strengths he feels, is his ability to prevent people getting into a rhythm. By pushing the pace, he makes it difficult for his opponents. He also feels that ground and pound is something that he excels at. Rivera has a slightly unorthodox approach to training;

“I train at a variety of gyms with different coaches, here in Santa Fe and I also go to Albuquerque. I know some people don’t like that, but I get a lot of looks at different coaching styles. I also get to train with a lot of partners.”

Brandon Royval, Rivera’s opponent, is someone he is familiar with. In fact, he has previously fought on the same card;

“He has a good game from his back. He feels he’ll do well, we’ll see. It’s interesting as I have a good game on top using ground and pound. He has a 10th Planet style off his back. He’s pretty lanky and has good long strikes, but his striking is his weakest point.”

As with most fighters at his level, Rivera has to make a living as well as train;

“I work full time Monday to Friday. I’m an apprentice electrician. I get up and train 5 AM – 7 AM, get off and train 5:30 – 8 pm. If my body is hurting, I may skip the evening session. I feel it has worked pretty well this camp.

“I’m out to prove I’m one of the best. It starts with Brandon; and whoever they want to me to fight, I’ll fight to prove that. If it’s the champ, I’ll take him out. Eventually I’ll go to the UFC where I’d like to fight guys like Henry Cejudo.”

When he’s not training or working, Rivera likes to enjoy his down time;

“I have a pregnant girlfriend, I spend time being lazy with her. We watch Netflix and do things like that. We’re outdoorsy and normally like to hike, backpack and fish. After this fight in Colorado, I’m going to check out the fishing there.

“I’d like to thank my sponsors, GDL Electric, Dahl Electric, State Employees Credit Union, and Damage Control Mouthguards. I’d also like to thank my family and friends, team, beautiful girlfriend and everyone who supports me.”