Jimmie Rivera explains pivot from UFC to BKFC, expects MMA return sometime down the line

Jimmie Rivera will remove his gloves for now, but is keeping the door open for MMA.

Rivera signed with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship and will be making his promotional debut June 24 against Howard Davis at BKFC 26. The event takes place at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

After he tested free agency, the perennial UFC bantamweight contender decided to try his hand at bareknuckle boxing, but still plans on competing in MMA again.

“Being a free agent, you want to test the waters, see what other people have to offer.” Rivera recently told MMA Junkie. “I’ve been in the UFC for probably six or seven years, fought really high-profile guys, had some really exciting fights, so when we came to bareknuckle it was just simple. The purse was really good on top of the contract where I could fight with them and I could also still do MMA. So I haven’t shut the door on MMA. I’ve just kind of pushed it aside to do the bareknuckle boxing right now.”

Rivera parted ways with the UFC in August. Although he lost three of his past four bouts, they came as competitive decision defeats to Pedro Munhoz, former UFC champion Petr Yan and current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling.

“I definitely plan on having more MMA (fights),” Rivera added. “One of the biggest reasons I signed with Bare Knuckle (was) the flexibility with fighting. I didn’t close the door on MMA. I didn’t like retire and decide to come back and do just one bareknuckle fight. Some guys were not doing so well at the end of UFC, and they ended up getting knocked out a couple of times and being like, ‘Alright yeah, I’m done. I need to retire.’

“I left with a close fight with Pedro Munhoz who’s in the top 10. I had close fights with all the guys like Sterling and Yan who were champs. I don’t feel out of my prime at all, so I think this is just a new promotion for me, new aspect. I love boxing. I always did. (I) loved working in boxing gyms and working out with boxers and preparing for fights. So it’s just kind of cool that I get to show off my boxing and get to go in there.”

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