Jorge Rivera: Calling Alessio Sakara a "World Class Striker" is a bit of a stretch

Nicknamed “El Conquistador”, UFC veteran Jorge Rivera will look to conquer another opponent, this time facing the Legionarius Alessio Sakara in the co-main event of UFC 122 this weekend. Thirty-eight years old, Jorge Rivera holds a Mixed Martial Arts record of 18 wins and 7 losses (8-5 in the UFC), finishing 12 of his fights via a TKO/KO. Rivera is coming off three consecutive victories, with his latest victory coming via TKO against Nate Quarry at Fight Night 21.

Here’s what Jorge Rivera had to say in an exclusive interview for Community. Enjoy!

You’re fighting Alessio Sakara at UFC 122 this weekend, how’s your preparations going for this fight?
I’m training real hard for this fight, so the preparations are going great. I’m training at F-15 with Peter Welch. I’ve been there for the last three years, so that’s sort of my second home.

What kind of gameplan do you prepare for Alessio, and how do you rate his striking game?
I feel like I’m prepared for everything. It’s MMA so I have to be well rounded. He’s a stand up fighter, so I think he’ll like to keep it there. Fine with me, coz that’s what I’ve been doing my whole career. As for his striking, I think it’s one of the best in MMA, for sure. He was a professional Boxer. He has a great left hook. Fast straight right hand. It’s hard to deny it.

Sakara presented by the UFC as a “World Class Striker”, while you actually have more KO wins on your record. Do you agree with that statement?
It’s a matter of opinion. Like I said, he’s a great striker, but I don’t know about him being a “World Class” striker. If he was a world class striker, he would be in Boxing. For MMA he’s a great striker, but a world class? It’s a bit of a stretch.

Alessio Sakara is a Brown Belt in BJJ. What will be your answer if he decides to take this fight to the ground?
I have no problem with that. I train with a great BJJ guys as well. I have Tim Burrill in my team, who’s a Black Belt under Carlos Machado. I train with so many good BJJ guys, so it’s something I’m not even worried about.

In your opinion, where the victory over Sakara could put you in terms of getting a shot at the title?
As long as I keep winning, it’s gonna come. I’m not going to get caught up in all that pre-fight pressure. As long as I’m getting impressive victories, the fights are going to demand that. My job is to put up exciting fights and win. Everything else will come by itself.

Your last fight against Nate Quarry was on a Fight Night card, and you’re a co-main event at UFC 122 in Germany. Do you feel any pressure because of that?
Not at all. I’m enjoying it. I like the attention, I like the interest. It’s one of the best things in being a fighter. Money and everything is great, but being recognized is another thing. So that’s what I want, to be recognized as a great fighter. Being co-main event is great.

Some fans are critiquing the level of UFC 122 fight card, saying there’s not enough big names on it. What do you think about that?
Well Anton, to be totally honest with you, I’m going to a local shows paying only 10$ and it’s worth every cent. As long as the fighters come to put up a great show, the fights will be exciting.  That’s how you measure quality of a fight card.  I’ve been to stacked cards, which were a snoozefest. So the so called “star power” has nothing to do with the fights being exciting. That’s the bottom line.

In my eyes, it’s the same unjustified critique coming against wrestlers.

You know, there are wrestlers that make the sport boring. I think there’s a point to look at the rules and change some things. I love the idea of having a Yellow and Red cards like they do in Japan.  If you take someone’s money, I guarantee you that they are going to pick it up. You wanna make someone fight – take his money away. And 20% of your fighting purse is a lot of money. We fight for money right? And people are coming to see a fight. So take someone’s pay and I guarantee you they are going to put up an exciting fight.

Good point. Finally, do you have any prediction for November 13th? KO, Submission or Decision?

Decision? What decision? There’s going to be a finish, my friend. One way or another. I don’t want anyone to judge my fights. I’ll look for a Fight of the Night in this one. I want the fans to know that I’m coming to fight, and make sure that this fight is going to be exciting.

Any words for Alessio Sakara?
I just want him to know that I’m honored to fight him. We’re both professionals, that’s what we do for a living and will make sure that it’s going to be an exciting fight.

  • Ninja

    lol that is true, Sakara is no way near being a world class striker, he has good striking but any K1 fighter would kill him

  • partyboy

    very good point about the card not being ‘stacked’ i predict a lot of very exciting fights with these guys, amir and the polish experiment all fighting

  • TheRealDeal

    I agree.

    All of a sudden they are promoting Sakara to be the next title contender. He’s won some fights but he’s not even in my top ten.

  • TheRealDeal

    Wow, what a stretch that is….. I still see Rivera TKO’ing Sakara. Rivera is under-rated for sure.

  • THF

    I also picked him by TKO.


    This is going to be a awesome fight

  • Arthur_Knoqout

    THANK YOU! We talked mad smack about that statement on the last show! like Nate Diaz said “its easy to be a pro boxer…it’s a lot harder to be a GOOD pro boxer” ;) sakara may be 9-0 but marcus davis was 17-1 when Nate beat the crap out of him!

  • Jizzle11

    Is there anyone else as excited as I am as to how far Lowkick has grown? This is pretty awesome.

  • UrHype

    I have mixed feelings about it, happy for Antong and staff, but it also brings the same issues as MMA going mainstream

  • Anton Gurevich

    explain :)

  • Joey Santosus

    Yes, but that just goes to show how some are hyped and some are not. Both Rivera and Sakara are on 3-fight win streaks in the toughest promotion in the world. I am not saying that the winner should be given an immediate title shot, but what I am saying is that the winner will be on a 4-fight win streak and there have been guys given title shots for less.

  • Stiks

    I agree. While a “world class striker” is a bit of an overstatement, I think a title match is a possibility sometime in the near future if things go as they have been going.

  • nokick

    Is he a former Army Ranger? anyone know?

  • japanegro23

    I agree with Joey. Some guys can be on a three fight win streak and either get a title fight or number 1 contender fight at the least.

  • japanegro23

    He’s looked hungry lately.

  • japanegro23

    I do see the boys putting in work. Good job guys.

  • WingChun

    I love this guy. I think he’s a great fighter. He has all the tools required to be a serious somebody @ 185; possibly even champ. JR’s biggest problem has always been his head, not his heart. He is a very emotional guy, he wears his heart of his sleeve more then anyone I could think of and when his head is in a bad place he loses.

    If JR has a clear head this should be an easy victory. He is a far better striker then Sakaro and he has KO power.

    I will be rooting for him to extend his three fight winning streak to four.

  • UrHype

    yep some given shots for less….especially in Anderson’s division

  • UrHype

    too many people who have only watched for 8 months because its the cool new thing and stand toe to toe with you , while thinking Kimbo Slice will make a come back

  • Rafaelroberto840

    I kinda aggree I think Sakara is fantastic but hes not world class level