Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight bruisers Urijah Faber and Jimmie Rivera went to war last night (Sept. 10, 2016) at UFC 203 inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Faber may not really be in the title mix anymore, but he remains one of the best in the world and a damn tough match up for most. Opposite Jimmie Rivera, Faber was hoping to bounce back from a loss and cement his position at the top of the division. On the other hand, Rivera has been running through regional fighters for some time, and he finally got his chance in the UFC not long ago. He put together three straight wins quickly, and last night he had the opportunity to become a true contender.
Faber came out and controlled the center of the Octagon, looking to land long range kicks. However, he had a difficult time finding his range, and his early attempts at takedowns were shut down. Rivera didn’t throw all that much throughout the round, but he threw fast combinations when Faber did commit to trying to close the distance a bit. On the whole, he played the counter striker well, landing the better blows in most exchanges.
It was fairly close, but Rivera largely controlled the opening frame.
Things really picked up for Rivera in the second round. About a minute into the round, he landed a really devastating low kick that dropped Faber to the mat and seemed to injure the veteran. For the rest of the round, Rivera really controlled the exchanges. His punches weren’t too damaging, but he continued to work on the lead leg. Additionally, his counter punches were making Faber hesitate a bit more, allowing him to land at a higher percentage.
Heading into the third round, Faber needed a finish.
The third round was really more of the same. Rivera continued to do work with his low kicks and counters, and he really prevented Faber from getting anything off. On the whole, it wasn’t quite as violent as the second, but it was another clear round for "El Terror."
The judges agreed.
This is a really massive win for Rivera, whose ranking did not accurately reflect his ability. Now 20-1 as a professional, Rivera clearly needs to be included in the title mix, as he’s one of the best in the world. In this bout, Rivera fought at his range masterfully. He never overextended himself reaching for Faber, allowing his opponent to come to him and countering hard at every opportunity.
Furthermore, Rivera did an excellent job with low kicks in this bout. He commonly used them to counter his opponent’s kicks, and it did quite a bit of damage quickly. By the end of the second round, Faber was limping badly, and it made the bout far easier for the New Jersey-native.
This is really Rivera’s coming out party. Following this win, he should be matched with another top 10 fighter next, someone along the lines of Bryan Caraway. As for Faber, this is definitely a tough loss, his first defeat at Bantamweight in a non-title fight. While he undoubtedly was facing one of the division’s best, he simply wasn’t able to make the necessary adjustments or throw Rivera off his game.
While Faber did add more and different kicks to his game, his historic issue with low kicks was definitely apparent in this bout. He was kicked while reaching a couple times, and those are always especially damaging. Once slowed down by kicks, Faber had a really difficult time keeping up with his opponent, who is 10 years younger than "California Kid."
Last night, Jimmie Rivera picked apart Urijah Faber en route to a decision victory. Can Rivera work his way to a title shot?
For complete UFC 203: "Miocic vs Overeem" results and play-by-play, click HERE!