Note: This interview was conducted the day before Alessio Sakara pulled out of the fight due to a knee injury while I was the Managing Editor of HeadKickLegend.com
Jorge Rivera was supposed to fight Alessio this weekend at UFC 133. Unfortunately, the Fates have stepped in for a third time and he's now set to face Constantinos Philippou on short notice. Rivera has been a UFC fighter since taking on David Loiseau at UFC 44. Now with a overall record of 7-6 and nearly 40 years old, Rivera could be fighting for his MMA career on Saturday night. We discuss what keeps him motivated after all these years in the sport and if there is a chance that he'd fight elsewhere.
Matthew: Hey Jorge, how are you doing today?
Jorge: Good man.
Matthew: I know that you were down in New Mexico helping out Tim Kennedy, is that where you spent the majority of your camp?
Jorge: I spent the last couple weeks over at Greg Jackson's with Tim Kenendy. But my camp is with Peter Welch in Boston.
Matthew: At 39 years old, have you decided how much longer you want to fight for?
Jorge: I'm gonna keep fighting until the good lord tells me to quit or one of my buddies tells me to hang it up. Or if I get the boot from the UFC. I don't want to fight for another organization unless I'm getting paid. I'm in the premier organization, that's what they're recognized as and that's where I want to be.
Matthew: So it's basically UFC or nothing at this point?
Jorge: You got it brother. Unless somebody is gonna say to me "Here, here's a few hundred thousand dollars" then we may have to talk to them.
Matthew: The last time we saw you was against Michael Bisping, reflecting back on that, just general thoughts...what are your general thoughts on that fight?
Jorge: You know what? I don't regret anything I did up to that fight. I'm not happy with how the fight ended up turning out. I'm obviously not happy with the result of it but that's life. It is what it is and you gotta suck it up and move on to my next fight. I have a tough fight with Alessio Sakara, that's what I'm focused on and if I get passed that then maybe I can focus on where to go from there. But right now, I've got a tough fight with Alessio Sakara and that's what I'm focusing on.
Matthew: Were you surprised by what Bisping did during that fight? Kneeing you illegally and then spitting on your coach's face?
Jorge: Watch the fight, I had that sweep and that was trouble for him. I had to sit there in the press conference bragging about how good he was and that I was a relic and that he could beat me at every aspect of the game. And then he resorts to tactics like that? It sat wrong with me for a while and in the fact that he got away with it too hurts me. But that's life and sitting there and crying about it is just sour grapes. It's time to move on.
Matthew: Did you have any conversations with Dana and Joe Silva afterwards?
Jorge: No, I haven't had an opportunity to talk to Dana. And to be honest, I could care less with bringing it up to them again. I know that they dealt with it with how they think they should have and it's like I said. There's not much else to be said about it. Just have to keep going on and moving along.
Matthew: Do you use a fight like that as motivation to keep you going? The past couple years have been pretty rough on you. How do you stay motivated to keep fighting?
Jorge: I think about what goes on in my life now. I have a family. I have three kids and a soon to be wife. I have a family and that's all the motivation I need. I need to put food on the table for them. I need to provide a good example for them and be the man. This is how I go about handling my business. I don't need much more motivation than that. I don't harp upon the past or how life is cause as bad as you think you have it, somebody has it a lot worse. It is what it is man.
Matthew: You're fighting Alessio Sakara at 133, how do you feel you match up with him?
Jorge: I think I match up with him well. We're similar in styles. We're both bangers. He's a very good boxer, he's got a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. I think on paper we look almost identical. I think we fight similarly and I think it's gonna be an exciting fight.
Matthew: What do you see as his weaknesses?
Jorge: I'd say his wrestling would probably be his weakness.
Matthew: I'd agree with that. As far as your career, you've been doing this for a long long time, is there a win or a loss that really sticks out in your mind as your Ali/Fraser type fight where you go "damn, we put on an all time classic?"
Jorge: There are a couple fights I enjoy when I look back on them. The Rich Franklin fight is one of them. The Travis Lutter fight which wasn't in the UFC is another one of them. That was a war and it's like "man, I really did that" I came out on top on one and the other one I came out on the bottom. But either way man, they were both wars. I laid it all on the line and I'm happy with how I felt after the fight on both occasions. Even though I lost the Franklin fight, I can always look back and say I gave it all I had and just came up short. He was the better man that night. It is what it is, that's life. Just be happy with the performance you give. Give it all that you've got. What more can anyone ask for?
Matthew: You seem to be in pretty good spirits. I'm assuming the camp has gone well for this fight?
Jorge: It has. Going to New Mexico was a great experience for me. It really helped me get excellent focus and appreciate and reenergize the love for what I do.
Matthew: That's good to hear and I guess the Red Sox playing well doesn't hurt either?
Jorge: Hahaha, you're telling me Red Sox, how about them Bruins?
Matthew: Yo! The Bruins! I'm a former Bostonian so this has been a great year for me.
Jorge: Cool man cool. The City of Champions baby. CITY OF CHAMPIONS! Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, the Bruins. WHAT UP?
Matthew: Something of note with you is that you're former military. Do you have any involvement with the military at this point or is that chapter of your life closed?
Jorge: That chapter closed. I was done with that in 1992 but Ranger Up is a company that deals with the military. They've taken the cause with me and they've been there. I could talk about Ranger Up all day long with what they've done for me in my career and my personal life is unbelievable. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ranger Up and everyone that is associated with Ranger Up. I could talk about them all day long for what they stand for and what they do. Those people are very good people. Those are good people.
Matthew: I don't now if you've heard this but they're not gonna be approved...
Jorge: Yeah, I heard. I got them tattooed on my body. It's tattooed on me so it's like whatever. That's on me for life and they can't block that out. I don't care!
Matthew: As far as them not being approved for the cage, you saw how a lot of sponsors handled the Dallas Strikeforce event. They were very outspoken and how it was complete garbage how the UFC dropped it on them...I personally like how Ranger Up handled it. In your opinion, with how the UFC is really involved with the military...with the Fight for the Troops and the Fallen Heroes...do you think that Ranger Up get's back in the cage in some sort?
Jorge: I know that Ranger Up is always gonna take the high road and that's why I stand by those guys. The integrity and the way in which they handle themselves is how I want to be as an individual for the rest of my life. They set a great example for me to follow and I'm not just saying it cause they're my friends and my sponsors. I'm saying that because they became my friends due to that. I'm being honest when I say I love those guys. There is nothing that I won't do for those guys.
Matthew: As far as your other sponsors, have you had any other issues because of that tax?
Jorge: I really don't know because my manager handles that. He does a great job at doing that. Giving Lex McMahon a big shout out because Lex is my guy. Lex handles all that stuff so I don't see that aspect of the business. Lex does all that for me.
Matthew: I know that you're a former military and I know that Lex is a former marine as well, do you find it easy to trust your manager knowing that they're not gonna take advantage of you because you've shared a similar experience?
Jorge: I'm gonna tell you why I love and trust Lex. We've gone through all those things together and I know they have a great relationship with Nick and those guys and I trust them. When I got out of the cage after the Bisping fight, Lex was the first guy that I saw and when you look in someone's eyes you can see into their soul and there was no doubt in my mind that that man had my back. I saw that. This is why I respect and trust him. I saw the emotion in his eyes and it was like I know this guy has my back.
Matthew: I appreciate interview Jorge. Have a great day and good luck at 133.
Jorge: Thanks man.