MMA veteran Dante Rivera was just promoted to 4th degree BJJ black belt by his long-time coach and BJJ legend, Ricardo Almeida. Rivera had an extensive MMA career that saw him competing in the cage for well over a decade, and coming up against some of the top fighters of the time. From 2002 to 2007, he fought almost exclusively around the New Jersey area on the regional MMA circuit and managed to put together an impressive professional record of 11-3. During this time he became known for his submission skills and at one point he even fought future UFC veteran Tim Kennedy pretty early on in their respective careers.
That run in the beginning of his career earned Rivera the opportunity to compete on season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2008, where he joined the team competing under UFC Hall of Fame member Forrest Griffin. This was actually the first time that the show made fighters compete in an elimination fight in order to book their place on the show, and Rivera won his by submission in the first round. He was among several men who would go on to compete in the highest levels of the sport during his time on the show, like CB Dolloway, Amir Sadollah, and Matt Brown among others.
One of the main storylines concerning Rivera in the show was the frequent clashes between him and future WWE superstar and BJJ black belt Matt Riddle. Rivera ended up going out in the second round of the show and Riddle went out in the opening round, but the pair got their grudge match on The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale. Rivera lost that match and wasn’t retained by the UFC, although he continued his career back on the regional circuit along with a short stint at Bellator. In the end, Rivera retired with a 16-7 professional record in the sport.
Dante Rivera announced the news that he was promoted to 4th degree BJJ black belt in a recent post to his official Instagram account: