If any UFC 127 fighter’s life is ripe to be made into a movie it is the story of Jorge Rivera. A stunning knockout of Michael Bisping in Australia would certainly sweeten the script for any Hollywood suit on the fence.
Why Jorge Rivera?
He grew up suffering discrimination in Milford, MA as part of the only Puerto Rican family in his area. He admits he made some mistakes as a teenager, which landed him in jail. He had his first child as a young man as he turned to MMA after his time in prison. As his MMA career took off with the UFC he grew apart from his first daughter who was living with her mother. At seventeen, that daughter – Janessa Rivera, died from complications from her birth control medication. Despite this terrible tragedy, Rivera has valiantly won his last three fights after her death and often mentions the presence of his daughter after each victory. Now, an old man, by MMA standards at 38, Rivera has his highest profile fight against a UFC star in Britain’s Michael Bisping.
It is a hardscrabble story of overcoming the odds and great life tragedy to find inner peace, fame and riches through sport.
If you watched the UFC 127 preview show on Spike TV, you can understand why the producers devoted the most time to Rivera’s story. He comes across as a man who was flawed and made mistakes early, suffered great heartbreak in his personal life, yet has persevered to find success in his sport. Now, he has the biggest stage of his life to show the world of MMA, at the end of his career, if he has one final push of greatness, which can overcome the younger and flashier opponent in Michael Bisping.
Heck, a thousand movies have been green-lit with 1/10th of the guts of this story. It mixes themes we all identify with in our own way from loss to redemption wrapped in the compelling drama of a Mixed Martial Artist striving for glory.
Rivera is a street guy and some of that has come through in his pre-fight trash talk, no doubt. But you can also see a man who has lived, has suffered, and fought in and out of the cage on many levels, but has come through the fire. He may still be coming through the fire yet with a massive chance to wow us all at UFC 127. How can’t one root for such a man?
Will this story have a rosy end with Rivera beating Bisping, winning a title belt, and living happily ever after … probably not. But, it is about the life struggle. And Rivera has shined in battling the struggle, no matter how things go in Australia.
What do you think of Jorge Rivera? Should his life become a movie?