Jimmie Rivera is inching closer to a UFC Bantamweight Championship fight, and has the biggest bout of his life this Friday in Utica against Marlon Moraes. However, this fight almost happened at UFC 219 -- well, sort of.
Rivera was originally set to face former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, who withdrew from the bout due to injury. Cruz was then replaced by John Lineker, who also was forced out of the planned fight. Then, bantamweight star Marlon Moraes thew his name in, only to then make several concessions. The fight ended up not happening.
"I was only allowed to fight two people. We weren't going to fight Dodson, he'd lost his last fight, so we'll fight Marlon. We said Marlon at 138, they said no. We said Marlon at 140, they said no. We said 145, they said no. We said January 20, they said no. We tried to figure out someone else for January 20th, but it just fell through," Rivera told Fightful.com
Rivera said that he was offered a fight in February and he passed on it due to the issues that surrounded the fight. When asked by Fightful's James Lynch about Moraes' manager Ali Abelaziz, Rivera admitted he wasn't fond of Ali.
"It was basically him. I know Marlon, he doesn't trash talk. I'm not a big fan of his manager. There was an incident at 219 where he disrespected my wife. Marlon at the press conference was trying to say something about me picking and choosing fights. I don't get to pick and choose fights. The UFC throws names my way and my coach and manager picks. I'm the one that goes in there and fights. I basically shut him down. He's not that bright. He can't talk smack, he's not that bright," said Rivera.
After Lineker fell out as a late replacement, Moraes says that he wasn't interested in re-booking against him. The situation did end up getting Moraes a new contract with the UFC, though.
"Not an option. We told them we'd wait for Cruz to get better, and they came back with a new contract and that's when my manager was willing to negotiate and we were going to fight the Lineker fight. Other wise we were going to wait for Cruz or the next best fight," Rivera told us.
In the full interview, Jimmie Rivera (21-1) discusses his upcoming fight against Marlon Moraes (20-5-1) at UFC Fight Night 131 on June 1.