Rivera: TJ Dillashaw Has No Power

The UFC bantamweight division was in a bit of a lull a few years ago, but over the past year has heated up and become one of the most compelling divisions in the sport. On the eve of champion Cody Garbrandt’s grudge match with TJ Dillashaw, one of the division’s other contenders has spoken out about his experience with the former champ.

In an interview with Bloody Elbow, undefeated #5 contender Jimmie Rivera spoke about a time when he sparred with Dillashaw earlier in their careers. Expecting a tough challenge, Rivera was surprised with how easily he handled the man that would become the division’s top fighter.

"I actually always thought these guys were on a whole other level–Urijah Faber, TJ Dillashaw," Rivera recalled about their Milwaukee training session. "So we went out to Anthony Pettis’ gym, and we got to roll with Faber and Dillashaw. And I was like, ‘Wow. I thought these guys were way better. They’re not!’ And I got to spar with Dillashaw. Like, this was the guy who came close to winning the Ultimate Fighter? I’m like, ‘What?’ It just put everything into perspective. I realized how good I am, and it was a confidence booster, it really was."

In the leaked video of the sparring session, both Rivera and Dillashaw are trading hard shots back and forth. This is unsurprising to those familiar with the stories about Dillashaw in practice: he has garnered a reputation for going extremely hard in sparring, sometimes to the point that he injured teammates.

Rivera, however, did not feel like Dillashaw was attempting to "bully" him in the sparring session. In fact, he says that all he learned was that Dillashaw does not hit nearly as hard as people think.

"Did he bully me? No. Obviously he landed a couple of shots, but nothing that was devastating. That’s when I realized that he doesn’t hit hard. He doesn’t hit hard, at all. If they said, ‘You’re fighting Dillashaw tomorrow,’ I would be like, ‘Alright, let’s go! Let’s do it.’ You know? I don’t have to worry about his shots.

"Yeah, he doesn’t have that power. I mean, look at his rematch with Barao! Barao didn’t drop. Dillashaw threw, like, 20 punches. Hit Barao. Barao was still standing. The ref had to stop the fight, because he doesn’t have that punching power. You already know he doesn’t have that punching power. Did he bully me? Nah, he didn’t bully me at all. I mean, I had fun. I think the best thing he got was a high kick, but my arm was there. He got me a little off-balance. He hit me with a jab here and there, but I’m not gonna lie to you, that was pretty much it."

Rivera will look to prove that he can hang with the elites of the division in more than just a sparring session. Though he does not have a fight scheduled, the top-five bantamweight will have his eye on Garbrandt’s July fight with Dillashaw and hopes to challenge for the belt by the end of the year.

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