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UFC 122 Preview: Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara

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Can Jorge Rivera put the hurt on Alessio Sakara like he did to Nate Quarry and extend his winning streak to four? Photo via <a href="http://mmaweekly.com">MMAWeekly.com</a>
Can Jorge Rivera put the hurt on Alessio Sakara like he did to Nate Quarry and extend his winning streak to four? Photo via MMAWeekly.com

If you ever thought the phrases "Jorge Rivera," "Alessio Sakara," "co-main event" and "UFC event in 2010" would all come together in one place, well, you're probably the only one. But it's true! Jorge Rivera will meet Alessio Sakara in the co-main event of a UFC event in 2010 when the two square off at UFC 122 on Saturday. Here is MMA For Real's preview of the fight:

Jorge Rivera:

Record: 19-7-0 overall, 7-5-0 UFC

Key wins: David Loiseau (UFC 44), Kendall Grove (UFC 80), Nate Quarry (UFC Fight Night 21)

Key losses: Rich Franklin (UFC 50), Anderson Silva (Cage Rage 11), Terry Martin (UFC 67), Martin Kampmann (UFC 85)

How he got here: Jorge Rivera is in a bit of a career renaissance right now. Rivera, 38, has won all three of his fights since losing his 17-year old daughter in August 2008. A career journeyman fighter (not to mention an excellent crooner), Rivera has won his last three fights (Nissen Osterneck, Rob Kimmons, Nate Quarry) to bring his record to 7-5 in the UFC. Prior to that, Rivera was a contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter 4" and fought in both the United States and England.

How he gets it done: Rivera is known as a striker and for good reason: 13 of his 19 career wins have come by KO or TKO and four of his seven losses have come by KO or TKO. Four of his seven UFC wins have come by KO or TKO, a solid rate, including the last two, one of which was an impressive performance against Nate Quarry. Rivera has heavy hands and isn't afraid to throw them.

Did you know?: A win against Sakara will give Rivera a four-fight win streak, his longest such streak since winning seven in a row (his first seven wins) back from August 2001 to September 2003. Rivera has had 18 fights in that span.

Alessio Sakara:

Record: 15-7-0 (1 NC) overall, 6-4-0 (1 NC) UFC

Key wins: Thales Leites (UFC 101), James Irvin (UFC on Versus 1)

Key losses: Drew McFedries (UFC 65), Houston Alexander (UFC 75), Chris Leben (UFC 82)

How he got here: Alessio Sakara's UFC career has been a strange one. His first fight was deemed a no contest after he was unable to continue after a Ron Faircloth groin kick. In his sophomore outing, Sakara beat Elvis Sinosic by unanimous decision. Yes, I understand that's not strange. The scores, however, were: 29-25, 29-26, 29-26. Since that fight, only one of Sakara's fights has made it out of the first round (against Thales Leites). Like Rivera, Sakara is riding a three-fight win streak.

How he gets it done: A boxer by trade, the 29-year old Sakara has compiled an 8-1 record in boxing (including two wins last year). Of his 15 career MMA wins, nine have come by KO or TKO. He hasn't submitted anyone in eight years. Sakara's only three career TKO losses have come inside the Octagon, as he fell (literally) to Drew McFedries and also to Houston Alexander (who subsequently was not for real) and Chris Leben. Sakara hasn't been submitted since UFC 60 (Dean Lister), but has primarily been matched with strikers.

Did you know?: Sakara has eight career pro boxing wins. Of those eight fighters, four were making their pro debut and the remaining four had a combined record of 9-52-4 heading into their fights with Sakara.

Bottom line: Rivera hits hard. Sakara's chin has some question attributes. Add those two together, and factoring in how much of a roll Rivera's been on, and that equals a second-round TKO win for Rivera. This seems like it should be an exciting affair while it lasts.

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