For a lot of professional MMA fighters, the biggest battles they will face will be taking place in the cage or in the ring. UFC veteran Diego Rivas had those battles in the cage and the ring, but his biggest fight would be with cancer.
“It was a radical, 180-degree turn,” Rivas told MMA Fighting. “After coming off so much joy with a victory, so many projects in mind, I wanted to fight two more times that year, I was in a good situation since that fight had left me in a good position in the UFC. But, well, God doesn’t give us anything we can’t bear, and I had to deal with something very, very rough last year, and in the moment I was shaken. Being sincere with you, I thought about the worst. I thought I was never going to fight again, and I even thought I was going to die, because it was a very aggressive cancer, and I was given two weeks to a month to live because there were already cancerous cells in my blood stream. It was a very severe and serious cancer, and I’m not going to lie, at one point I was scared, very scared. But I was strong throughout all of this thanks to my family, thanks to all the people that love me, my training partners, and my friends that that were always with me, and because of them I was able to get through this and move forward.”
A year after his diagnosis and with lots of treatment, Rivas has defeated cancer. With that fight behind him, Rivas plans on fighting again by the end of 2017.
“I truly believe that everything that happened to me last year, with me being sick, undergoing surgery, and not being able to fight, helped me a lot to clarify my objective as an athlete and a fighter,” Rivas said. “I think the desire of wanting to fight is now way greater than the one I had, and now I’m way more eager to return. I have the mentality of wanting to learn and become the best that I can be, of being a sponge in order to be able to absorb and acquire knowledge on wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, everything. I want to absorb as much as possible to be the best fighter. I think what this year has changed the most is my mentality as an athlete. Today, I have all my goals in front of me and I’m going to strive to make them happen. I know that if I work hard and I make sacrifices, I can achieve many things. I believe 2017 is going to be my year. I want to do many things and I have the desire to work for them.”
Rivas is currently undefeated as a professional MMA fighter, with his two wins in the UFC coming over Noad Lahat and Rodolfo Rubio.