Bantamweights Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz first met inside the octagon in 2015. That fight, Rivera’s second in the UFC, saw “El Terror” pick up a split decision win.
Both men went on strong runs following that bout. Munhoz won his next four. Rivera put together a five-fight win streak to start his UFC career, and both have hung around the top of the weight class for years, looking to break into the top five.
There’s an idea that, having won the first meeting, Rivera needs to outdo himself in their rematch this Saturday. Rivera isn’t concerning himself with that, although he admitted during the UFC Vegas 20 virtual media day this week that the pair’s first meeting “was tough, especially that third round. I wasn’t in the shape I was usually in, and we changed some things that training camp that I remember specifically.”
Things are feeling different this time around. “This fight, it’s like, I’m excited for it because I’m in way better shape cardio-wise for this fight,” said Rivera.
He’s even found a silver lining in the fight being pushed back repeatedly. More time to prepare. “It couldn’t hurt, it just helped,” noted Rivera.
The Munhoz rematch also marks Rivera’s return to bantamweight, after a one-off 145lb scrap against another traditional 135’er, Cody Stamann, last year. To get back to 135lbs, “I had to just tweak some things,” Rivera revealed. Especially since, cutting to featherweight, Rivera only sheds roughly two pounds. Obviously that’s not the case with bantamweight, so “having the extra time helped.”
Looking back to their first fight, Rivera feels like he was much better in the stand-up department than Munhoz. Coming in enemy territory in Brazil, he had to cope with a hostile crowd. This time around, the crowd won’t be a factor — there won’t be one. And Rivera believes the match-up works in his favor once again. “He’s a guy that stands in the pocket. I won’t have to go chase him.”
And again, it comes back to being in better shape these days. “I think one of the things he’s not expecting is for me to be in better shape than I was in the first fight,’ Rivera added.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 20 (UFC Fight Night 186) virtual media day scrum with Jimmie Rivera above. The event takes place this Saturday, February 27 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.