Ex-UFC fighter Francisco Rivera booked to compete in first fight since 2016 USADA suspension

Ex-UFC fighter Francisco Rivera is back.

Following the conclusion of a four-year USADA suspension and subsequent COVID-19-induced delays, Rivera (11-7) has booked his return fight for XMMA. The event takes place Jan. 30 at Palm Beach Convention Center in Palm Beach, Fla., and will stream live on the promotion’s website.

Rivera, 39, competed at bantamweight for the duration of his 10-fight UFC tenure. However, he will move up to 145 pounds for this fight to take on Bellator and LFA alum Ryan Lilley (10-6).

It’ll be 54 months in between fights for Rivera when he steps in the cage. His most recent fight took place at UFC 201 in July 2016, when he lost a unanimous decision to Erik Perez on the pay-per-view main card.

On July 23, 2016, Rivera presented an out-of-competition sample to USADA that, when analyzed, tested positive for banned substance clenbuterol. Rivera was the second fighter to receive a USADA suspension following the UFC’s implementation of the partnership program.

Rivera claimed he had traveled to Northern Mexico and ate meat contaminated with the substance – an issue that other UFC fighters had encountered. However, he was unable to provide independently verifiable evidence of his travels. Furthermore, an arbitrator determined Rivera had falsified evidence. As a result, his standard two-year suspension was increased to four years.

Eligible to fight in July 2020, Rivera spoke to MMA Junkie this past April about his MMA comeback.

“I know I can still put on great shows,” Rivera told MMA Junkie. “I’m definitely one of the best bantamweight fighters who ever fought in the UFC that, the way I fight. I’m always looking for a knockout. I’m always looking for excitement. I’m never one to put on a boring fight and I think now would be the best time to make a comeback to the UFC because fans love the way I fight – especially now. I feel like it’s more entertainment now.”

XMMA’s Jan. 30 event also features UFC veterans James Vick, Marcelo Golm and Kyle Bochniak among other MMA notables.

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