Footage of Jimmie Rivera sparring with former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw surfaced on the web earlier this year. Rivera will fight former champion Dominick Cruz later this year at UFC 219.
The footage is from before Dillashaw and Urijah Faber parted ways at Team Alpha Male, and before Rivera handed Faber a loss inside the UFC’s octagon.
Bloody Elbow reporter Connor Ruebusch spoke with Rivera back in April about the video. Below is what Rivera had to say.
“My buddy Louis Gaudinot, that 125-er with green hair, was fighting Tim Elliott in Milwaukee,” Rivera recalls. “And I actually always thought these guys were on a whole other level–Urijah Faber, TJ Dillashaw. So we went out to Anthony Pettis’ gym, and we got to roll with Faber and Dillashaw. And I was like, ‘Wow. I thought these guys were way better. They’re not!’ And I got to spar with Dillashaw. Like, this was the guy who came close to winning the Ultimate Fighter? I’m like, ‘What?’ It just put everything into perspective. I realized how good I am, and it was a confidence booster, it really was.
“That was the only session I ever had with him, and we really just went in there and got our gear on, and it was like, ‘Oh, you got a partner? You wanna spar?’ And we sparred. I remember it just being fun. He was trying to get good shots in, but I was just playing and having a good time. Throwing stuff, making him miss. Getting some kicks and punches off. I was just having fun.
“Did he bully me? No. Obviously he landed a couple of shots, but nothing that was devastating. That’s when I realized that he doesn’t hit hard. He doesn’t hit hard, at all. If they said, ‘You’re fighting Dillashaw tomorrow,’ I would be like, ‘Alright, let’s go! Let’s do it.’ You know? I don’t have to worry about his shots.
“Yeah, he doesn’t have that power. I mean, look at his rematch with Barao! Barao didn’t drop. Dillashaw threw, like, 20 punches. Hit Barao. Barao was still standing. The ref had to stop the fight, because he doesn’t have that punching power. You already know he doesn’t have that punching power. Did he bully me? Nah, he didn’t bully me at all. I mean, I had fun. I think the best thing he got was a high kick, but my arm was there. He got me a little off-balance. He hit me with a jab here and there, but I’m not gonna lie to you, that was pretty much it.”
Eddie Villecco, host of Pure EVil MMA