Marlon Moraes signs contract to fight Jimmie Rivera, ball now in Rivera's court

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Marlon Moraes (L), shown during a knockout win over Aljamain Sterling last month in Fresno, Calif., has signed a deal to fight Jimmie Rivera. (Getty Images)

On Thursday, Jimmie Rivera called out Cody Garbrandt, a challenge that Garbrandt’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, said the former bantamweight champion cannot accept because he has a broken hand.

Another of Abdelaziz’s clients, Marlon Moraes, has stepped up in Garbrandt’s place and accepted the challenge. And to prove it, Moraes put the signature page of his bout agreement to fight Rivera on Twitter.

That leaves it up to Rivera whether he’s interested in the deal. Rivera and Moraes have a history on social media and were calling each other out and exchanging insults on Twitter. The 21-1 Rivera is ranked fourth at bantamweight and is closing in on a title shot.

It seemed he was hoping to use a win over Gabrandt to help him make his case he’s ready for a title shot, but Abdelaziz doubts Rivera’s sincerity. Abdelaziz told Yahoo Sports he believes Rivera knows that Garbrandt is unable to fight and was just trying to make himself look good by using Garbrandt’s name.

So Moraes, who scored a brutal KO of Aljamain Sterling with a knee last month, went to the UFC and pleaded for the fight, signing to fight Rivera on Fox on either Feb. 24 in Orlando or March 3 at UFC 222 in Las Vegas.

Moraes is ranked fifth at bantamweight and a bout between the two figures to be an action-filled, fan-friendly affair.

The onus is on Rivera to decide whether he wants it or prefers to wait until Garbrandt is healthy.

Marlon Moraes’ signed contract to fight Jimmie Rivera. (Courtesy of Ali Abdelaziz)

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