MIAMI – Irwin Rivera returned to MMA for the first time in 18 months, and with that came a lot of emotions.

Rivera (11-6), a former UFC fighter, defeated Firdavs Khasanov by second-round TKO with a body kick on Friday night at Eagle FC 46. The fight marked Rivera’s return to competition since his January 2021 arrest for attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his sisters. Rivera’s family immediately rushed to his defense, attributing his alleged actions to a mental breakdown.

Rivera was released from custody 10 months later on the court’s condition that he continue bipolar medication, therapy, permanent supervision by family and friends, and progress toward a return to a working life.

Irwin Rivera shares an emotional moment with his sister after his win at Eagle FC 46. (Photo courtesy of Eagle FC)

Considering what Rivera’s been through since then, he expressed appreciation for having the opportunity to return to the cage.

“There was a lot of emotions going in there,” Rivera told reporters afterward. “It’s been a long time coming. More than anything, I was very in the moment. I tried not to get too emotional leading up to the fight, and my corners – my team really – did a beautiful job in calming me down and telling me, ‘Just be in the moment, man. Do what you do best.’ I fight. I’m a fighter, bro. This is what I do. I’m very grateful for an incredible night.”

A very happy and healthy Irwin Rivera celebrating with his sister following his #EagleFC46 win. pic.twitter.com/7l6SbcfjYb

— Danny Segura (@dannyseguratv) March 12, 2022

You can watch Rivera’s complete interview in the video above.

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