Like a true conqueror, UFC middleweight Jorge “El Conquistador” Rivera believes in what hasn’t yet been seen.
“I love my job. I love what I do. You can’t ask for much more than that,” said the Puerto Rican. “Do I want to become a little more wealthy off it? Yeah, but I’m happy. It took me off the streets, it gives me something positive to do with my life and I’m grateful for it.”
The tight-lipped Rivera reveals he was a hustler. He won’t say what. Only that he was a teenager that strayed from the humble path laid down by his father, who was an orphan and came to the United States from Puerto Rico to provide a better life for his family. He joined the Army to correct himself, but found old habits upon exit resulting in a prison sentence.
“My kids came to see me. My parents came to see me. It was one of the hardest things in my life,” said Rivera. “I didn’t want to do that shit anymore.”
The Team Sityodtong fighter admits he thinks about friends and family that didn’t make it out of bad places in life “all the time.” A broken jaw like the one he suffered against Terry Martin at UFC 67 in 2007 is easy in relation to the troubles he would have encountered if he didn’t find professional fighting.
He credits his father and his family for guiding him through personal battles, including the tragic loss of his teenage daughter in 2008, while building a 6-5 Octagon record. “The Ultimate Fighter” season four alumni relays his parents feel the professional ups and downs along with him too.
“As the years go by, you take a few beatings here and there, it’s harder for them to watch them. They don’t want to see their boy get hurt, but this is what I do man,” he said with a laugh. “It is what it is.”
With decisive victories over Kendall Grove, Dennis Hallman and David Loiseau, Rivera explains his split decision ‘W’ over relative unknown Osterneck is the best of his 24-bout career. He was competing for the first time since his daughter’s passing and submitted in his last outing versus Martin Kampmann. It doesn’t bother him the preliminary contest at UFC Fight Night 18 is largely unseen. He reasons that stuff takes care of itself.
His fight with Quarry will be available to millions on Spike TV. Standing toe-to-toe with “The Rock” is the kind of fight everybody enjoys, according to Rivera.
“I trained for 15 minutes but the truth is I want to it end in 15 seconds,” he said, estimating Quarry’s knockout power can leave him laid out center cage just as fast.
Undefeated in 2009, he put together back-to-back UFC wins for the first time in his career against Nissen Osterneck and Rob Kimmons leading up to his UFC Fight Night 21 contest with Nate Quarry at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 31.
Rivera understands the greatest achievements in his career may be on the horizon.
“I think the biggest battle in life is always going to be with yourself. Once you conquer yourself—that’s what I want to do man. There’s a lot of demons in me that I still need to defeat. I plan on doing that,” said Rivera. “It’s a whole process for me. I’m not God. I’m not Superman. I’m not no super human being. I’m just a regular average guy, just like you, dealing with my shit, just like you. Hopefully I’ll come out on top. I don’t know how its gonna turn out man.”