When Francisco Rivera fights, normally the bout ends with violence.
The No. 12-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight will meet former Flyweight John Lineker on the FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" undercard of UFC 191, which takes place tomorrow night (Sat., Sept. 5, 2015) inside MGM Grand Garden Arena (full fight card here) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rivera 11-4-(1) will aim to capture back-to-back wins for the first time since 2013 and he will be doing so against Lineker (25-7), who knows a thing or two about lighting up an opponent.
The 33-year-old Rivera spoke with MMAmania.com during the lead-up to fight week about Lineker, training camp, his health and controversial loss to Urijah Faber, what the future holds and much, much more.
You've had some time off between bouts, can you talk about what you've been up to?
FR: I try to make time to have fun after a fight so I'm not so stressed out or worried about training and dieting. I gotta get out and kind of have some alone time with the family and stuff to get my mind right and get back into training full throttle and ready to go.
How much does the loss versus Urijah Faber still linger?
FR: I'm over it now. It is what it is. There's nothing I could do about it. If the rematch would've happened, it would've happened a long time ago. It's over and done with. I'm past it. I don't care about that fight. I'm moving onto John Lineker.
How did the bout against John come to fruition?
FR: You know, it's not really my decision because obviously, when I wanted a rematch or whenever I've wanted somebody, the UFC really never gave me that person. I'm done asking for opponents and I just got by who they want me to fight and where. They ask med to fight John and I said okay.
When you look at John, do you think he will lose anything in the move up to bantamweight?
FR: I have no idea. Regardless of what weight class he comes from, I'm sure he's going to come scrapping; do what he does and stand and fight. I don't see a difference; maybe he will have more energy or he will have an easier weight cut so he might have a little bit more confidence. As far as I'm concerned, I'm going in there to win and do everything I can to win. That's the main focus right now. I'm really focused on getting my winning streak back.
What's training been like for John ... I know that you're in the home stretch?
FR: Training camp is great. Coming off of the win versus Alex Caceres; my body is feeling good and back to being healthy. I didn't really have any injuries in that last fight so I'm confident and before that fight I hired a nutritionist so my diet has been on point. My weight cut is probably going to easier this time as opposed to last time. I'm ready to go and excited. I can't wait to fight.
You've competed at a pretty consistent clip since you began your MMA career, what's been the key?
FR: Obviously when you're older you have to be more careful. You have to train a lot smarter. Back in my twenties, I didn't have to wake up and stretch and go see my chiropractor, or go get a massage. Back then it was getting up to train; you didn't care if you stretched or how your body felt. At that age you really didn't care; you heal faster. So now, at my age 33, I definitely take care of my body. I definitely see my doctors every week before a fight. I make sure I'm good and my bones and back are good. I definitely train smarter and take care of my body first now and foremost because it's definitely a lot different from being younger.
I see you've done a lot of work in the pool, or on hills and using ropes, how important is it to differentiate your training and step out of the gym?
FR: A lot of guys don't realize there's so many other things that you can do to get good conditioning and focus; not just banging it out at the gym and hurting yourself. I wish I was doing a lot of things that I'm doing now, back then. There's a lot of things I do now that are not so stressful on the body. Now, when I go out and do some snorkeling or swimming, I'm not only mentally focused - calm and relaxed - so when I go and train, spar and get ready for a fight; I'm relaxed. I'm not getting crazy, hurting myself or stressing out. It's helped me a lot and I definitely recommend up-and-coming fighters to do some outdoor activities.
What did you make of the recent retirements of Frankie Perez and Jordan Mein?
FR: I can see why some guys do it. People think it's easy and it's really, really stressful. It takes a toll on your body fighting so much; a lot of training camps pounding on the body. Mentally also; it can be mentally draining. I can see why a lot of guys, who take many fights at a young age, want to retire. It's different for different guys. I can see how and why some guys want to retire or do retire. I've had certain times where I've said, ‘Should I retire? Or am I good?' Depending upon my body and my mental focus and stuff so I can see the different types and the mental aspect of the game where guys retire and some guys just can't keep it going because it's definitely - if you haven't been in training camp getting ready for these type of fights, it's definitely hard to do.
Fighters seem to be asking for performance bonuses more and more. You're an exciting fighter. What do you think of the way performance bonuses are handed out?
FR: After my last fight, I think I've had a couple of good fights and I've asked for it and mentioned it. Then after this last fight against Alex Caceres, I had the fastest finish of the night and I asked for the bonus and I definitely didn't get anything. The UFC is going to do what they're going to do with the bonuses; best performance, worst performance. I mean, who knows how they pick them, or who chooses them? Some people say it's Dana White, some people say it's the matchmaker. I have no idea. It seems like they just give it to the hometown guys, which is great, but how can you not give one to the guy who had the fastest finish on the entire card? It's just beyond me. I think I have the worst luck in the UFC, I think I'm probably the only fighter in the UFC who hasn't gotten a bonus before that has fought this many times. I'm no longer going to ask for it. I'm going to keep my mouth shut and at least get my win bonus.
With Latin MMA on the rise, and a couple of seasons of TUF: Latin America in the books, would you ever consider coaching?
FR: Oh yeah, definitely. I would definitely like to coach or have something to do with Latin fighters. There's so many out there. A lot of my fans are from Mexico; I always get messages and stuff like that about fighting there. I've asked for it before, maybe against Gallito Perez. He's from Mexico, or anybody who's willing to coach with me. I've pitched it out there to my agent to let the UFC know, so they know if they need me to do something like that I definitely would love to. I do stuff on the side, I do stuff on my own. I help out some of the Mexican fighters over here who don't know English, or need help with their English and training. I definitely try to support all of the Hispanic fighters who are trying to get into it, but don't know English or training. A lot of amateurs, or guys just trying to learn MMA in general. I have guys who come out here from Mexico just to train with me.
Have you put any thought into what you might do post-UFC?
FR: I definitely have that already planned out. I used to work for the city of Buena Park for years growing up; summer and part-time jobs. I know the city from growing up, I know all of the guys who work there. I've known them all for years and they all still work there. I know the guy who does all the hiring and he knows when I'm done fighting, I definitely want to make sure I have my 401k and retirement. I'm definitely not depending on the UFC and their checks to keep me going for the rest of my life.
Any closing thoughts on starting a new winning streak versus John?
FR: Every time I fight, I fight to win. I don't fight for anybody else; I fight for my family. I definitely already know I'm in the UFC. As long as I'm winning, bigger things and better pay is going to come, so that's my main focus. Going out there and doing what I do best: Performing. And let God takeover and whatever happens, happens. I don't care who it is; when I fought Faber, it was the same thing; when I fought Caceres, it was the same thing. I don't think it matters; a fight is a fight. If they called me to fight [T.J.] Dillashaw, it's the same thing.
I also want to say thank you to all the fans. I've been through a lot of stuff with the UFC; ups and downs and wins and losses. Frustration and different turnouts and nothing I could really do, but the fans have just been so supportive and that's one thing that I can really appreciate. No matter what happens they are behind you and I've got so many great fans. They know how hard I work and how big of a family man I am and how much I love my kids. That's who I do it for. I do it for those who are single parents and now I'm a single father raising kids. They can see me and I've been able to continue my dream of fighting in the UFC that there's nothing holding these other fans back. They can definitely get there if they work hard.
Before we get going, Roy1 from MMAmania.com would like to know whether you are from East Side Buena Park or Los Coyotes?
FR: [laughs] I'm definitely from the east side of Buena Park. I have a lot of family that were raised on the east side. I definitely know the difference from the Coyotes side of Buena Park and the east side. I'm definitely from the east side [laughs].
For the full UFC 191: "Johnson vs. Dodson 2" fight card click here.