Emmanuel Rivera knows time isn’t on his side so he’s trying to make his rise a rapid one.
Rivera entered the world of mixed martial arts a little later than most. In fact he didn’t even step into a gym until his mid twenties. The undefeated featherweight started his fighting career in back yards similar to the Kimbo Slice’s and Jorge Masvidal’s of the world. According to Rivera he literally went from watching it on his couch to competing in tough guy tournaments and finally transitioning into the cage.
“At 24 years old I got into a gym and started training,” Rivera said. “I was sitting on the couch watching UFC, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and I felt like I could do it. I just started looking up gyms. I went to my gym. did some tough man tournaments. Won three tough man tournaments in a year and then next thing you know I transitioned over to MMA. I had no grappling, no wrestling I had absolutely no experience.”
Fast forward a few years later and Rivera is preparing to make his Bellator debut with a professional record of 5-0. Now 30 years old, Rivera knows time isn’t on his side and is looking to move through the ranks as quick as possible. He drew a tough opponent for his debut in Treston Thomison, but believes a dominant performance will group him with the other elite featherweight prospects like AJ McKee and James Gallagher.
“I am not here to fight to a decision or to fight to a close split decision, I am here to take him out in the first or second and make a statement. Like I said I know I’m at that age, I know that I don’t have the time, so I want to make this as quick as possible. Climb these rankings and get a belt,” Rivera said. “I feel like an impressive win over Treston, I think it will be deserving for me to be talked about in that stable. Like I said I want to make a statement.”
Rivera is looking for the toughest fights possible. The high risk, high reward match-ups and believes none would pay off more than fight with highly touted prospect AJ McKee. Rivera was offered a short notice fight with McKee in January, but unfortunately a different opponent was selected. He says he holds no hard feelings, but admits McKee has been on his radar ever since.
“AJ McKee is a good opponent. I feel like that would be a great fight,” Rivera said. “I actually got offered a fight in January, Bellator needed somebody for AJ and I told them I would take it, but I was thrown in the mix with two or three other guys and AJ had to pick, or his people had to pick. I don’t know how that worked, but I was in the mix with two or three other guys for them to pick, but obviously I didn’t get picked. I think AJ would be a great fight. I have had him on the radar since back in December.”
At the end of the day actions speak louder than words and Rivera plans to put on a performance that speaks volumes.
“I want to knock him out and make it nasty. Make it to where people remember it and then next thing you know I will be fighting whoever Bellator has on the top. Being 6-0 and taking out a guy like Treston would be a statement in my opinon, so that is my plan to keep winning and winning in an exciting fashion that’s what people want to see first of all. Second of all when you win in exciting fashion nobody can deny you the rankings or at least for you to be thrown in the mix for you to be talked about a top that.”
Rivera will compete on the undercard at Bellator 174. You can catch Rivera and Thomison on Bellator.com. The main card will air live on Spike TV at 5 PM.