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UFC 203 fight card: Urijah Faber vs Jimmie Rivera full fight preview

MMA: UFC 199-Faber vs Cruz Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight contenders Urijah Faber and Jimmie Rivera will scrap this Saturday (Sept. 10, 2016) at UFC 203 inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. In a match up of veteran and up-and-comer, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Let's break it down.

Following Faber’s most recent title loss, there were a lot of questions as to whether or not he would continue. Nonetheless, just a few short months later, he’s back in the cage and ready to compete with a dangerous new foe. Rivera tore up the regional scene for quite a few years before finally being picked up by the UFC, and he’s made the most of this opportunity. He’s won three fights inside the Octagon and established himself as a top 15 fighter, and now he’s been given the opportunity to climb further up the ladder.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both men:

Urijah Faber
Record: 33-9
Key Wins: Dominick Cruz (WEC 26), Michael McDonald (UFC on FOX 9), Eddie Wineland (UFC 128), Frankie Saenz (UFC 194)
Key Losses: Renan Barao (UFC 149, UFC 169), Jose Aldo (WEC 48), Dominick Cruz (UFC 199, UFC 132)
Keys to Victory: Faber is an exceptionally talented wrestler and grappler, who's arms have found their way around the necks of 19 opponents. He's also proven himself to be a dangerous puncher, as his right hand has dropped quite a few of the division's top fighters.

Both fighters have similar builds in this match up, but they do have some stylistic differences. While Faber is primarily a grappler who relies on big punches and occasional flurries, Rivera is very much a boxer who throws a high volume of combinations.

With that in mind, the exchanges on the feet could be very close.

Therefore, takedowns will be key in this match up. Rivera has proven difficult to take down, but he's never really faced a wrestler with Faber's ability or experience. Plus, since they're around the same height, Rivera won't have his usual advantage of having a lower base.

Additionally, Faber can push his advantage by keeping a high pace. Rivera's gas tank is not weak, but he definitely has slowed down a bit in past fights, whereas Faber generally thrives in grueling battles.


Jimmie Rivera
Record: 19-1
Key Wins: Pedro Munoz (UFC Fight Night 77), Yuri Alcantara (UFC on FOX 18), Marcus Brimage (UFC Fight Night 72)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Rivera is a third-degree black belt in Tiger Schulmann's MMA — which I didn't even know was a thing! — but is functionally a high-volume boxer who operates in the pocket and occasionally mixes in a double leg. He's actually a rather hard hitter, as he's really found his power in the last two years, resulting in three knockout wins and multiple foes dropped.

To win this bout, Rivera must walk a fine line. Faber does a nice job of maintaining his distance before countering or charging in with punches, so it's up to Rivera to close into his range. However, there are some risks involved in trying to close the distance opposite Faber, most notably his counter overhand and double leg. With that in mind, Rivera must push forward with his punches without over-extending himself in the process.

On the bright side, Rivera's combinations are generally quite quick and powerful. If he does manage to force Faber to fight in his range, he should be able to do quite well.

Bottom Line: This is a huge bout for both men.

Coming off another title loss, Faber is not really in the title hunt. However, he’s still one of the division’s top stars and fighters, but he must win bouts like this in order to maintain that position and keep the potential for big money fights alive.

If Faber comes up short, it’s a definite sign that he may be getting closer to retirement. Rivera is seriously tough, but Faber has beaten plenty like him in the past. Meanwhile, this is the type of high-profile fight that Rivera has been working for since 2008. By taking out a longtime contender like Faber, Rivera can climb into the Top 10 and title mix with a single great performance.

That said, a loss here means that opportunity is wasted. Rivera won’t lose any ground, but he’ll have to work even harder for another chance like this.

At UFC 203, Urijah Faber and Jimmie Rivera will throw down. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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