HOUSTON, TX, December 7, 2011 – They call him “The Spaniard” and like his namesake character in the movie Gladiator, Jesus Rivera is every bit a brutally-efficient fighter when he goes out there to perform for the crowds in the arena (theater). If you’re a fan of Rivera and also a fan of the Ridley Scott film, you might recognize that these two stars have even more in common. Similar to Russell Crowe’s character Maximus Decimus Meridius, Jesus also places an emphasis on his family, spending his time outside of training raising his son here in Houston. He’s also strategic in battle, substituting moving components of the Roman Legion for strategizing against opponents in this – the modern day chess match that is Mixed Martial Arts. And lastly, he’s loyal to a fault to his team, in this case, 4OZ Fight Club. “Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together,” Maximus might say in the movie. For Rivera, this is more applicable to training, where he has spilled blood along teammates Daniel Pineda, Jeremy Mahon, Rakim Cleveland, and Steve Garcia to get ready for their fights next Friday on HDNet’s Legacy fighting Championship 9.
Read on and learn more about Jesus River’s preparations in this, his TXMMA pre-fight interview. Then when he hits the Arena Theater cage on December 16th, you’ll only have to ask yourselves one simple question: “Are you not entertained?”
Interview – Jesus “The Spaniard” Rivera
Jesus, thanks for taking your time to speak to TXMMA.com. Before we talk about the fight, I want to ask more about life outside the cage.. What do you do for living and when you’re not training?
I work as a software developer for an oil field company. When I am not training I like to spend time with my family, I like to take my boy to the park, museums, and places where he can have fun. He is my number one priority.
What’s the story of how you ended up becoming a fighter? Share with us.
I have always been involved in martial arts, I started with Judo when I was little then I did some karate as well but I did not take it seriously until I started doing Kyokushinkai Karate again when I was 15. Kyokushinkai Karate is a full contact Karate, the only protection you wear is a cup. You can punch (bare knuckle), knee and elbow anywhere in the body and kick the body and head. When I turned 18 I started competing in Karate and Kickboxing. I got to do around 7 or 8 Karate tournaments (3 to 4 fights each) and a couple kickboxing tournaments. When I came over to the U.S., I was so busy with work that I barely had any time to train so I basically did not do anything for 14 Years until I started again when I was 34.
They call you ‘The Spaniard.’ Is there any story behind that nickname? Who gave it to you?
When I first started at the 4OZ Fight Club, people were curious about my accent and they asked me where I was from. I told them I was from Spain. A couple days later they started calling me “The Spaniard”. That’s pretty much it.
Your last fight, the rematch with Rey Trujillo, was a very exciting victory and on TV no less. Take us through that fight. How satisfying was it to get the win?
It was amazing to get the win. I did not get to fight my fight because of his style but I got the win. I had been asking for that fight since I lost to him in March 2010. I had all kinds of health issues going into that fight. I pretty much gave it to him when we fought the first time. He is a good fighter and let me tell you he can hit hard.
At 37 years of age, why do you continue to want to do this? You retired at one point right? What brought the fire back?
I love fighting and the competition, to prove myself. To me, fighting is like a chess game. I do not go there and swing for the fences. I like to study my opponent to find openings and counters attack, etc.
I was going to retire after I fought Trujillo the first time but I could not go out like that. I wanted to have a fight where I felt satisfied with my performance. Either way, this will for sure be my last year. One or two more fights and I will called it quits.
Your record now is an impressive 6-2. Even with just the year timetable you have yourself, don’t you have any big goals you want to accomplish?
I am not looking at the UFC or anything like that. Right now it is time to focus all my attention on my son and his needs. It is hard to train the way I do and be able to have my son in sports. After I retire, I would like to teach Martial Arts, help my teammates, and enjoy. That will be my biggest victory.
What are your thoughts on this upcoming fight with Randy Hauer?
I am excited to fight him. He is an experienced fighter and he has fought some of the best in the business. I think we are going to put on a good show.
What strengths do you feel he brings as an opponent?
I think his strength is his wrestling and his speed but I feel that I will be able neutralized both of them and fight my fight.
How do you feel heading into it? Who’s helped you train, etc ad what’s that process been like?
We are having a good training camp. The best thing about this fight is that it is five of us fighting in the card (Steve Garcia, Daniel Pineda, Jeremy Mahon, Rakim Cleveland and myself). So, there is always someone there to push you and vice versa always.
Any predictions on the outcome of this fight?
Me winning of course.
Any last words before the fight?
I want to thank my family, my standup coach Robert Perez, BJJ Coach Renan Chavez, all my teammates, Legacy FC for bringing me back, my manager Brett Boyce with Made to Win, and all my sponsors: 713 Tattoo, Katy Chiropractic, North Houston Orthopedics, and Rockstar Design and of course, TXMMA.com and The Cage Door for keeping Houston MMA alive and growing.
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