Prospect in the Spotlight (June 26-27): Jerome Rivera

Introduction

Tuesday, June 23rd, American flyweight prospect Jerome Rivera will be in action for Dana White’s Contender Series against an opponent TBD. He will be looking to continue scoring wins, as Rivera looks to score a UFC contract. He represents Luttrell/Yee MMA & Fitness, an underrated camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Submissions: Jerome Rivera is a very talented submission fighter. Everything he does when he’s in a dominant position to get a finish he does well. He is very technical on the mat and combines that with an aggressive strategy when looking to find submissions. Six of his nine wins come by way of submission and he’s done so with variety. He has finished fights via triangle choke, armbar and rear-naked choke. He is also able to open up his submission finishes by using solid ground-and-pound. That gets his opponent on the defensive and creates holes that he can expose with submissions. Also, he’s solid defensively when it comes to shucking off takedowns and getting out of compromising positions on the mat. Against Zac Riley, he was in trouble early, as Riley had his back and threatened with a solid rear-naked choke. Overall, Rivera is most dangerous as an offensive submission grappler.

Size: For a flyweight, Rivera is a very tall, long fighter. He’s 5’10” and possesses long arms and legs. That is an advantage for Rivera, as many of his opponents are at least several inches shorter than him with shorter reaches. Not only are his long limbs advantageous for striking, as he can keep the distance and throw from the outside, but they have proven to be advantageous for him on the mat. Those long legs have helped him secure two triangle choke victories, including his most recent outing with Kendrick Latchman.

Needs Improvement

Power Game: Rivera is not the most powerful guy you will come across, and it shows in several aspects of his game. While he is an accomplished submission grappler, his offensive wrestling could use some work. Against Kendrick Latchman, he struggled to get in on his opponent and send him for a ride on the mat. Sometimes his shots were done without setting him up, which hurt him, but he simply did not show the absolute raw power to drag his opponent down. In terms of his striking, he throws a lot of kicks and is good at poking from the outside, but he doesn’t appear to be a knockout threat. Many of I have seen multiple opponents walk through his strikes and not really respect his power when it comes to their hand positioning and their willingness to take shots getting in close on him.

Unproven Against Top Talent: Through 11 career fights, Rivera has lost just two times. That said, both of those times were against the best fighters he has faced in Brandon Royval and Roberto Sanchez. I will give Rivera a pass on the Royval fight, as he dislocated his shoulder 40 seconds into the bout, causing the stoppage. However, he was defeated by Sanchez via submission, which, as mentioned, is Rivera’s strength. Outside of the Royval and Sanchez fights, Rivera’s opponent’s combined records at the time of competition is 34-31. He is very accustomed to fighting regional level talent. What will happen when he takes his next step up in competition? Will he fly or will he falter? Time will tell.

Outlook

Possible UFC Roster Member: At just 25 years old, Rivera is certainly a fighter that has potential and has shown improvements in his game. However, he has to really start proving himself going forward. That’s why he’s a good candidate for the Contender Series. He’s a young guy that’s developing, but still has parts of his game that need refining. If the UFC is serious about keeping the flyweight division, which it seems to now that they have started signing a few guys again, than Rivera has a chance to make the roster in the next year or two. However, if flyweight does get dropped at some point, Rivera has a very uphill battle, considering how stacked 135 pounds is.

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