UFC on Fox 25 took place Saturday night on the big FOX network, with Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum throwing down in the main event. Earlier on in the UFC Long Island card, bantamweights Jimmie Rivera and Thomas Almeida opened the four-fight main portion of the show. Between the two, the top-ranked fighters shared a combined record of 41-2 entering into the evening.
Rivera spoke to Cageside Press prior to the event, saying he expected to be next in line for a title shot with a win Saturday. Could he execute at UFC Long Island and put himself within reach of UFC gold?
When the action got underway, Almeida landed a pair of leg kicks early, while Rivera looked to land a combo and make his way inside. Almeida next landed a right, while Rivera answered with a left hook. Moments later, Rivera dropped the Brazilian with a right; Thomas Almeida would recover and tie up the action to buy time. Rivera was having none of it and after seeing the action briefly stopped due to a lost mouth guard, went right back on the attack. Jimmie Rivera’s right hand was constantly cocked and a threat, and with just over a minute left in the round he used that hand to drop Almeida a second time!
In the second round, Rivera was throwing bombs, and the two were standing and swinging just over a minute in with Rivera getting the better of each and every exchange. Almeida was able to land some inside kicks, and a number of other strikes as well, opening a cut up above Rivera’s right eye. With two minutes to go, Rivera was rocked, with Almeida throwing a straight shot that wobbled him. Rivera recovered quickly and looked for a takedown, and while he didn’t find it, he seemed to have escaped the danger zone. A high kick by Almeida slipped through a minute later, but Rivera would continue to engage, and the action went to what promised to be an exciting third round.
In the third, Jimmie Rivera shot in for a takedown early and landed it, going to work inside Almeida’s guard. Almeida would, however, make it back to his feet before long, and after some grappling along the fence, the pair would separate and regroup in the center of the cage. Rivera seemed to get the better of the majority of the exchanges, and caught an Almeida double knee for a brief takedown late in the third round. Almeida was right back to his feet, but the takedowns may have made the difference in the third. They swung right to the final bell — what a duel!
Jimmie Rivera def. Thomas Almeida by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-27)
With the win, Rivera moved to twenty straight wins as a pro!