After a decade long mixed martial arts (MMA) career, eight years of which were spent competing inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) Octagon, an emotional Jorge Rivera has called it quits, announcing his decision to hang up the gloves for good after his win over Eric Schafer tonight (Fri., Jan. 20, 2012) at UFC on FX 1 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rivera had the rare opportunity that many athletes long for -- walking away from their respective sport with a win.
Even though Rivera went into tonight's fight with two consecutive losses, he made sure his ride off into the sunset was a successful one by defeating "Red" in the second round via technical knockout.
When defining what makes a true fighter, many of the same characteristics are on display, such as heart, determination, fearlessness and overall willingness to step up and mix it up against another human being without thinking twice.
Jorge Rivera, truly one of the toughest fighters to ever compete inside a cage, can list them all of those attributes on his impressive resume.
Often times, people are so drawn to titles and accolades to define a successful mixed martial arts (MMA) career, and rightfully so. However, success can be defined in so many other ways, as well.
Make the jump to take a trip down memory lane to relive "El Conquistador's" journey.
After winning five straight in the local circuit, Rivera made a successful UFC debut on Sept. 26, 2003, by defeating Canadian superstar David Loiseau at UFC 46 via unanimous decision. He lost his next outing to one-time hot prospect Lee Murray via submission in the very first round.
Throughout the next year and half, Rivera competed in Cage Rage and in the UFC, fighting some of the best along the way, such as Rich Franklin and pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva, coming up short against both.
The Bostonian was also a contestant on season four of the wildly popular The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) realty TV show. Rivera didn't win the tournament, but the show was his one way ticket back into the UFC and he's been competing under the Zuffa umbrella ever since.
Rivera's most heated rivalry came against the biggest UK MMA star in Michael Bisping. Rivera and the brash Brit exchanged personal and insulting verbal jabs at each other leading up to the fight which took place at UFC 127.
Bisping outclassed Rivera en route to a second round technical knockout victory, which lead to the British bad boy spitting towards Rivera's corner man. In the end, it seemed that Bisping and Rivera called it a truce and all was well that ended well.
"El Conquistador" holds notable victories over Kendall Grove, Edwin Dewees, Nate Quarry and the aforementioned David Loiseau, but he never did get over the hump to reach the level of a top superstar who competes for world titles.
Rivera competed 15 times inside the eight-sided cage, amassing an 8-7 record. Did he ever win a title? No. Did he always fight like a champion? Absolutely!
One thing was certain: if you saw an upcoming event and noticed Jorge Rivera's name on the line-up, you knew you were in for a treat. "El Conquistador" seemed to embody the "kill or be killed" attitude when he stepped inside the Octagon. He always came to fight and never disappointed, leaving it all in the cage win, lose or draw.
Not too many people can say they have had an eight-year career with the world's preeminent MMA organization and undoubtedly made some nice coin doing it. Rivera walks away from the sport a winner, and that is something that can never be taken away from him.
So we say farewell, Mr. Rivera, and thank you for all the great fights.