It’s safe to say, more than a few people were likely surprised when the UFC announced Urijah Faber was going to scrap Francisco Rivera on December 6th. While Rivera has scored some impressive stoppage wins, he is coming off a decision loss to Takeya Mizugaki, and is ranked #11. Faber, meanwhile, tapped out Alex Caceres in July to ensure he remained a top five ranked 135’er. “The California Kid” is ranked #3, and there was talk he might fight Raphael Assuncao next.
Rivera recently appeared on MMA Junkie.com Radio to discuss the upcoming fight, and it looks like the punishing striker was also surprised by the match-up. While talking about the fact he will fight Faber on the event’s prelims, River noted (quote via MMA Junkie.com)
“I don’t know what happened,” Rivera said. “I guess they didn’t book it early enough, or promote it enough, but they called me. Somebody must have turned down Urijah, and of course, I can’t turn down a life-changing opportunity like that.”
Of course, Faber will be the consensus favorite when the fight goes down, but if Rivera can walk away with a win, it would be a huge accomplishment for the bantamweight. A win over a perennial contender like Faber would likely catapult Rivera into the middle of the top ten rankings.
“I really didn’t think about it when I started fighting, but when I got better and started winning more fights, I thought I might end up fighting this guy one day,” Rivera said. “(I thought) that would be a dream come true, no matter what happens. That has to be one of the best moments in my career, one of the most notable guys in the UFC, so it’s going to be one of my dreams come true in fighting Urijah.”
It’s an interesting match-up, and it will go down on a pretty stacked card. UFC 181 will also feature welteweight champ Johny Hendricks taking on Robbie Lawler, and lightweight champ Anthony Pettis versus Gilbert Melendez. Travis Browne is also scheduled to fight Brendan Schaub.
UFC 181 will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.