Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling are set to meet in the preliminary card’s featured bout at this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 1 from Phoenix, Arizona.

For a while there, the No. 5-ranked Rivera thought he may not get a high-profile fight. After calling out former champion Cody Garbrandt to no avail, “El Terror’s” fight prayers were answered by a familiar foe in Sterling. He’s not a fan of Sterling after ‘Funkmaster’ supposedly turned him down outside the UFC:

“I’m not a fan of him at all,” Rivera told LowkickMMA when asked how he felt about his opponent. “I tried to fight him a couple of times outside the UFC and he said no. Now the cards are turned and I’m doing pretty well. He agreed to fight me so, I’m just looking forward to getting in there and fighting.”

A ‘Dangerous’ Fight

If you’re a fan of Rivera, then you already know that he’s not a disrespectful fighter. To make that point clear, Rivera respects Sterling more than most of the other 135-pound fighters on the roster.

“It’s a dangerous fight for him as it is for me,” Rivera explained. “Its time for us to lock horns. Plus he [Sterling] was the only one that wanted to fight. Everybody else was saying they weren’t able to fight, or their hurt, or this and that.”

For Rivera, who has averaged a fight every six months, getting fights at the highest levels has been a progressive problem. In this era of fighters being able to call their shot and in many cases, hand picking their fights, guys like Rivera could seemingly get lost in the shuffle. However, Rivera understands all to well why he has a hard time finding suitors.

“What it says is that it’s a risky fight, it’s a dangerous fight, it’s a tough fight,” Rivera said referring to himself. “Its something they could lose a lot on. Especially guys ranked in front of me. They don’t want to fight me.”

“If you notice my last couple of fights have been with guys behind me[in the rankings]. That’s because no one wants to step up and fight in front of me,” he added.

Next Up

If all goes according to plan for Rivera on Sunday evening, he will improve to 23-2 and inch his way closer to a title shot. “El Terror,” however, is a realist and as such believes Marlon Moraes is the next man up.

“I think Marlon has the next shot,” Rivera told LowkickMMA. “If he gets it or Henry [Cejudo] get’s it, I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. But a win definitely gets me back in there,” Rivera continued. “I mean, I got a win over [John] Dodson in my last fight. And that definitely throws me in there especially that he beat T.J. Dillashaw.”

A win over Sterling would certainly move Rivera closer to a potential title shot. But the division seems to be at a standstill at the moment. Rivera, however, does seem to think he knows what the UFC wants to do with the bantamweights.

“Depending on the money and all that, I think Henry is going to fight at 135 [pounds] against T.J. for the title.”

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Mike Straus @AKAstraus21 is a credentialed MMA journalist and a member of the MMAJA. He has been a fan of the sport since its inception and has been covering the sport professionally for three years. In the past, he has produced content for Fansided's Cagepages, mma-media.com, and Combatpress.com. He currently contributes for MyMMANews.com, he is a staff writer for Cagesidepress.com, and LowKickMMA.com. He most recently began writing for BJPenn.com.