Although most casual fight fans watch some of the major UFC pay per view and FOX shows and the occasional Bellator event on SPIKE, there is a whole other world of fighters out there. These are young scrappers fighting their way towards the big time, ‘chasing the dream’.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fighting out of the red corner, weighing in at one hundred and thirty five pounds and fighting out of Boca Raton, Florida he is….. Irwin “The Beast” Rivera.
Irwin is an up and coming bantamweight fighter representing The Blackzillians. The 27 year old has won 5 of his 6 pro fights and is ready to fight anyone at any time. So Irwin how did you get involved in the sport of MMA?
“Incredibly I have no experience. I didn't have a base to start with other than the fact that I knew I can fight because I had been in so many street fights most of my life growing up and I won all but 2 out of like 15 that I can remember. I never was a bad kid looking for problems, I just did a bunch of dumb things growing up that put me in very bad situations where I had to protect myself. That being said, I literally one day just saw an ad on the computer for a tryout to have amateur fight with pro rules and the winner of the fight would receive a 3 fight pro contract with the organisation, Tapout sponsorship and a trip to New Mexico to train with Donald Cerone at his ranch. Long story short I went to the tryout and made the cut to have a fight. When it finally came down to the fight I was beating the guy up standing and then threw a switch kick that made me slip so the guy rushed me, grabbed me, slammed me and got in mount started pounding me out not really doing too much damage, until finally I gave up my back and he sunk in a choke, where I tapped. After that loss I remember going home feeling like a failure but then I just literally had an epiphany that “I could do this”! I believed that if I got with a gym and started learning everything bottom up, especially the ground game first, I can go very far with this. I remember how nervous and scared most if not all the guys were at the venue and I just felt so at home. Like it's what I was was meant to do….I didn't have no nerves or emotions. I just wanted to fight and being under those lights just felt right I loved the attention and the scenery. Since then I got together with a local gym in Hudson valley NY and began doing jiu jitsu tournaments, then kickboxing fights, then finally my MMA debut. I won so much and was always getting better because I trained 2-3 times a day, it ultimately led me to Florida to train with my now new home gym, The Blackzilians.”
That is amazing, taking a fight with no formal training. Coming into the fight game, who were your MMA inspirations?
“My fighter inspirations came as boxers more then they did MMA fighters. But as far as MMA guys definitely GSP, Mirko Cro Cop, Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis were some of my favorite guys to watch.”
Those were some great fighters you mentioned. So coming into your fifth fight you were undefeated and suffered a heart breaking decision loss, did you feel you had to change anything up after that loss?
100000% (laughs) yes, that was a blessing when I look back on that fight. I have no regrets and I learned that my ground game needed more development. I was ashamed of how much Peterson was able to control me and since that fight I now get up at 6am, 3 times a week to roll with the Gi and get together with one of my very good friends and collegiate champ Carrington Banks on Sunday's to work on my wrestling, constantly drilling to understand control and positioning. Very grateful to him, my BJJ coach Jorge Santiago and Coach Neil Malanson for all my development thus far. I've come a long way!!!!
With a great coaching staff like that, which fighters do you workout with regularly?
I like to train with the lightweights and lower guys. My two best friends are my best training partners Sean Soriano and Gilbert Durinho. I also train with Andre Soukhamthath, Caio Uruguai, Carrington Banks, Abel Trujillio and Michael Johnson to name a few.
That is an impressive list of training partners, but of course steel sharpens steel. So when and who is your next fight against?
I'm having trouble finding opponents unfortunately. My next bout is scheduled in two weeks and I had 5 guys drop out already so I'm not sure who I will fight but I am sure that I will be ready for whoever they can fill in. Combate Americas is the name of the organisation and my fight will be live on UFC Fight Pass, so be sure to check it out.
I know you cut a decent amount of weight, do you have any favourite meals to eat or rituals after you weigh in?
“Im really intelligent with what I put in my body. Cooking is one of my passions. I love to cook and I truly believe that nutrition is a weapon! My post weigh-in meal will always be steak and a bunch of other secrets I'll keep to myself (laughs). I am going to be starting a cooking channel on YouTube very soon called MMA Chef, so definitely look out for it! I'll reveal all my goodies on there and a bunch of other great MMA related meals for bulk, staying lean and cutting. My only ritual is that I cook for myself. After my win I enjoy a well deserved cheat meal”
The MMA chef sounds great, I will be sure to check that out when it comes out. Do you have a dream fight, what about career goals?
“My dream fight? I don't really know, just to fight all the best guys our realm has to offer until the day that I retire. I just want to be remembered as literally the greatest warrior of combat sports. It sounds cliche, but that is truly my goal. I also don't just want people to remember only what I did in the cage but all the great things that I accomplished outside this sport and the person I was in doing so. “
It seems that you are well on your way to reaching your goals. This season has been an interesting on The Ultimate Fighter. How do you think you would have done if you were cast on the show?
“I know I would destroyed all those guys including Demetrius Johnson! I'm not a cocky guy but me at 125 is a very big problem for anyone. If there is one thing I know very well it's that there is nobody that will outwork me! If I had a chance to be on the show I would have gotten used to the pace of the flyweights and worked harder then everyone to secure my spot in the finals and shocked the world when I would face Demetrius. I really wanted to be on the show but the universe didn't want me to take that step yet and I accept that. My main focus is on my next fight and little by little, step by step I will make myself valuable to the big show and gladly work my way to the top.”
If you ever do drop to flyweight, the world better watch out. Now for the important question, how did you become known as “The Beast”?
“It's a long story but I basically gave myself that name. Beast is the fighter I always wanted to become growing into the sport. I wanted to be known as a beast for the way I fought in that cage. After my 1st kickboxing fight that I had in Hudson Valley, NY the name stuck because of the ways I was handling guys in my fights and in the gym. After my 2nd pro fight here with the Blackzillians, it again lived up to its expectations when I began to KO guys in the cage and in the gym.”
How can MMA fans learn more about you?
Sounds great, do you have any shout outs or call outs before you go?
“Shout outs to the best team in the world, my Blackzilian brothers and as far as call outs I want to fight all the best guys that Combate Americas has to offer! To my sponsors and two good friends that have seen me grow up in my career and in my life, I thank Dr. Tony at Acupuncture Zen and Dr. Rich with Dr Rich Davidson Chiropractic office, for all the wonders they do for my body. These guys have been with me from the very beginning, since my amateur days and honestly without these two guys there's no way my body would be able to train as hard as it does daily and recover without there treatments. Thank you fellas if any of you are ever in Delray beach/Boca Raton Area check them out they are the Best in town!!!!”
Irwin “The Beast” Rivera is an aggressive fighter and always puts on an exciting show. Watch out for Irwin, in my opinion he is only a few fights away from the big time. I'll see you next time as I continue talking to the best up and coming fighters as they are “Chasing The Dream”. Check out his most recent fight below!
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