Joey Rivera: Roy Nelson Basically Felt That Doing TUF Was a Wrinkle in His Plans

Steven MuehlhausenContributor IIINovember 7, 2012

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It has been an up and down season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter in terms of the fights and ratings. The ratings for this season have hit a low of 624,000 viewers with a high mark of 1.1 million, which has been achieved twice with last week's episode hitting that number.

The season overall has been averaging 863,000 viewers, which is down when they went with TUF LIVE format earlier this year when it averaged a little more than a million viewers.

The fights have been the same thing as the ratings—up and down. We see fights like last week between Roy Nelson team fighter Jon Manley defeating Shane Carwin team fighter James Chaney via submission. Then we get fights like we saw about two weeks ago between Michael Hill and Matt Secor where for the most part the fight stalled before ending in controversy when the judges announced Hill got the victory.

Episode three of TUF saw the oldest member of the show—Team Nelson's Joey Rivera—defeat Team Carwin's number one selection Sam Alvey by majority decision. The 32 year old who fights out of Tucson, Arizona got into MMA due to the rough atmosphere of his early days in New Jersey.

"I first started training in 1997, when I was still in high school," Rivera told Bleacher Report. "I started in aikido and then started doing judo. I really fell in love though with grappling. It was a great way to not get in trouble and to do something for myself. My neighborhood in New Jersey wasn't the best and grappling was a good outlet for me to get away and find something I like to do."

Most guys who make The Ultimate Fighter usually only tryout once to make the show. Rivera, however,  tried out numerous times and felt that he wasn't going to get that break of getting on the show.

"I had actually tried out three different times," Rivera stated. "I actually tried out for the welterweight season, the lightweight season and another welterweight season. Finally they had another tryout, which was for this current season, but I wasn't going to go because I had felt I tried too many times. They (UFC) said I didn't have to tryout anymore and they accepted me.

"They (UFC) took me to the interview and accepted me. It was like all the hard work is now beginning to pay off."

Roy Nelson has been questioned by UFC President Dana White in the past regarding the way Nelson looks, his work ethic; the list goes on and on. You see some of those things on the show, such as after Rivera's victory Nelson made his guys pick a straw and whoever drew the shortest either had to fight or pass the straw to another teammate. Julian Lane got the shortest straw and chose to fight.

Rivera says he respects Nelson as a fighter, but questions Nelson's fight selections, training methods and his commitment to the show from the very first practice up to last week's episode.

"We as a team are frustrated with those things and we noticed it at the beginning, from the very first practice to right now in the season," Rivera stated. "Its not that Roy Nelson is a bad guy. I just think that he's probably a lot better fighter than he is a coach.

"Roy Nelson is a heavyweight. The first episode he basically said that his wife was pregnant and this (TUF) was a wrinkle in his plans because he had a fight coming up in December and all this other stuff. Exactly what he said is what we are to him.

"He lives in Vegas and if you compare him to Shane Carwin, where he came and brought in Nate Marquardt, his wrestling and strength and conditioning coach. He brought a team down. In where that with Roy Nelson, he lives in Vegas and he thinks he has that luxury of going home and relaxing where these guys (Carwin's coaches) are on the job. He plans it a little better."

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.

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