Welcome to the UFC: Jerome Rivera

Jerome Rivera UFC
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 04: (R-L) Jerome Rivera punches Luis Rodriguez in their flyweight bout during Dana White's Contender Series season 4 week one at UFC APEX on August 04, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC)

UFC Vegas 11 sees the promotion back at the UFC Apex for the last time before going back to Fight Island. The card is headlined by Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley is a welterweight grudge match. Last week Tyson Nam (19-11-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC) was supposed to fight Matt Schnell but Schnell took sick and had to pull out. The UFC was able to re-book Nam the following week against newcomer Jerome Rivera.

Jerome “The Renegade” Rivera
Santa Fe, New Mexico, US
Luttrell/Yee MMA & Fitness
6 Submissions

How will Rivera fare in the UFC:

Jerome Rivera is a good young prospect still only 25-years-old. “Renegade” is a grappler first with some skills on the feet. While on the feet, Rivera likes to fight on the outside throwing a lot of kicks including front kicks. He’s a pretty tall guy and he’s used that to his advantage with some Thai knees. Still, his striking needs a lot of polishing as just throwing kicks isn’t going to take him far without throwing follow-ups and setups with his hands.

Jiu-jitsu is where Rivera shines but the problem is in the wrestling. Rivera focuses on pressing against the cage to work to the back or to pull his opponent down to a knee or create scrambles. That’s not going to work a lot of time as he really lacks in physicality. Once he does get the fight down he produces excellent ground and pound, smooth transitions, and is good at attacking submissions. Even off his back, Rivera is pretty dangerous. Rivera has some key features like good jiu-jitsu, toughness, a good gas tank, and youth. Over time he has a lot of potential and even right now he can make some waves in the division. To progress farther from where he’s at now he’s going to have to tighten up his technique and not rely on fighting with the flow.

How he matches up with Nam:

Nam is pretty underwhelming as a fighter but there is no question his style is perfect for this match-up. Rivera being a grappler is no doubt going to try and ground Nam. That’s not likely to happen and not because of the lack of wrestling from Rivera — Nam is extremely tough to take down. Nam is a power puncher, with extremely low volume however. There is a slight chance Rivera can outpoint Nam from the outside with kicks but I don’t see that happening. I don’t see Rivera being able to win a technical fight which is what he will be forced to do in this fight. Nam is just too experienced and far to dangerous for Rivera right now.