Interview: Jordan Rivas

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”


Jordan Rivas

Interview by: Richard Burmaster

Jordan Rivas looks at things differently than the rest of us. When you mix an accounting degree with a Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, you end up with a fighter who thrives in the details of everything he does. Whether that’s learning a new technique or solving a complex equation he will master it down to the tiniest of details. That attention to the small things is what also allows him to standout as the lead instructor at Elite MMA Baytown. Jordan has been successful as a top level BJJ competitor, and he is looking to continue his winning ways in the cage this Sunday in Houston Texas at the House of Blues where USACA presents LoneStar Beatdown.

Jordan is 2-0 in his Amateur career, and he is fighting for the 170lb title against hard hitting John Clough. We were able to catch up with Jordan this week and ask him a few questions. How did you get started in MMA?

Jordan: After training for several years in Jiu Jitsu, I started to try the MMA classes and I liked them.  Those classes led me to train a little Thai boxing and boxing.  But I think there is a natural progression from Jiu Jitsu to MMA since MMA was originally developed to test Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Who are your favorite fighters?

Jordan: Antonio ‘Minotauro’ Noguiera, BJ Penn, You trained at the Yamasaki Academy in Washington D.C with some of the nations elite, including Army Rangers and Navy Seals. How was that experience?

Jordan: Well, I only trained there for the first 3 months.  So, all of my Jiu Jitsu I owe to Eric Williams and Hai Nguyen.  But the training at the Yamasaki academy was intense. You are the lead instructor at Elite MMA Baytown. How hard is it for you to find time to train for your own fights?

Jordan: Training for fights would be really difficult if I didn’t have such a good support structure of assistant coaches.  My assistant coaches are also excellent grapplers and strikers so I have world class training partners to work with every day.

TCD.Net: Since you are the lead instructor at Elite MMA Baytown do you worry that your performance in the cage can affect your school? Such as a win can boost the status of the school do you worry that a loss would decrease the status?

Jordan: Not too much, honestly I like to compete and as a competitor I understand that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  My job is to train my hardest and try to win as much as possible.  If I worried about losing I would just never compete, then I would never lose. You have been able to compete at some of the top grappling tournaments including the Pan Am’s and the World Championships. What was it like to compete against competitors at that level?

Jordan: At the International level every competitor is there to win the gold medal, so every match is fought at 100%.  Meaning that there are no easy wins, it is a fight from the beginning till the end. How hard was it to compete, train your students, train yourself and go to school? All while being married with kids?

Jordan: It was really difficult.  Many times I felt like I was going to break down, but again I have been blessed with a great support structure.  With such a full plate I really had to learn to prioritize things in my life.  But overall I feel like I’m a much stronger person because of those tough times. Have you had a chance to see much of your opponent John Clough?

Jordan: I haven’t seen any video of John, but I take all my fights very seriously. You received your black belt from Eric Williams and Hai Nguyen. What was it like to work under such decorated coaches?

Jordan: I am very lucky to have the team that I have and the coaches that I have.  Eric and Hai are such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the fight game and life in general.  They have always pushed me to be the best that I can possibly be, and that’s something that I try to carry over into teaching my own students. You have a Bachelors degree in Accounting from the University of Houston. Does that help you break down MMA into a numbers game?

Jordan: They both allow me to use my analytical skills and my attention to details. How did it feel to achieve Black Belt status?

Jordan: The black belt felt great. It was the result of many years of dedication and hard work.

To me the black belt is not the end game.  I see it as an opportunity to compete with the best grapplers in the world.  Many times when guys get their black belts they retire from competition, that’s definitely not me. BJJ is about feel and technique.  Accounting is about very precise numbers and equations. Does you ever feel yourself using something you learned in one to help you in the other?

Jordan: Again I feel like my attention to details has helped me excel in both fields.  I am a very technical person so if you show me an equation or a technique I can make it work. Since you are such a decorated grappler, do you feel pressure to prove yourself on your feet so that you are not considered just a ground guy?

Jordan: No pressure, I feel like it’s important to remember what my background is, while still improving on all aspects of my MMA game.  I feel like the problem with most new people looking to get into the sport is that they don’t want to get really good in one thing whether it’s grappling or striking.  New guys are so anxious to fight they don’t develop a solid core in any discipline. What is your prediction for Sundays fight?

Jordan: No predictions, I know my game plan and I’m coming prepared to fight. Anything you would like to say to your opponent John Clough?

Jordan: I wish John the best of luck in his training. Anything you would like to say to your friends and family?

Jordan: Thank you to all my coaches and training partners for pushing me to be the best athlete that I can be.  Big thanks to my wife Alaina for supporting me and my crazy training schedule. Motto you live by?

Jordan: I can think of a few that I try to live by.  One, treat others as you would want to be treated and two obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.