Jimmie Rivera unavailable for Marlon Moraes in February, wants Dominick Cruz fight back

Top UFC bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera has not lost a fight since 2008. Ross Dettman for ESPN

Jimmie Rivera simply can't postpone his honeymoon any longer.

And due to a long list of circumstances, it appears the UFC bantamweight might go nearly one full year between fights.

The UFC has offered him a fight against Marlon Moraes on Feb. 24, but Rivera says that's not feasible because he's scheduled to go on his honeymoon earlier that month.

Rivera (21-1) has been married since 2016 and already postponed the honeymoon twice. He was scheduled to face former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 219 last month, but Cruz fell out with a broken arm. Rivera is hopeful the UFC will return to that matchup this spring.

"I started at the bottom and worked my way to the top," Rivera, who is 5-0 in the UFC, said Sunday night. "I took a lot of fights people didn't want, and I won those fights.

"I don't ask for much, but I think I've proven that I deserve to fight the top contenders like Dominick or [former champion Cody Garbrandt]."

The injury to Cruz threw a serious wrench into Rivera's 2017, but he tried to work with the UFC when it happened.

Rivera accepted a replacement opponent, John Lineker, but then Lineker withdrew from the bout during fight week with a tooth infection.

At that time, the UFC proposed another replacement, Moraes (20-5), and Rivera accepted. He even accepted at a higher weight, due to the short notice. Ultimately, Moraes, who had recently fought twice in the span of one month, wasn't available.

The UFC made one last offer: John Dodson, a southpaw who has lost two of his last three fights. Rivera didn't feel that fight made sense, and asked to face Moraes at UFC 220 on Jan. 20. That time frame was still too early for Moraes, who was taking time off after a busy finish to 2017.

Rivera last fought in July, when he defeated Thomas Almeida. Rivera says he wasn't compensated for the ordeal at UFC 219, meaning he suffered financial loss on his camp. He also missed out on celebrating the holidays with his family.

"It is what it is," Rivera said. "I'm not going to sit here and pout. They said they won't do anything about that; I just have to get back to work."

Rivera's focus is now on enjoying his honeymoon and returning to a fight against Cruz or Garbrandt -- not Moraes.

That matchup has picked up steam, after it was teased as a late replacement at UFC 219 and now Feb. 24. Rivera, however, has his sights back where they were before this all started.

"I know people love to say, 'You're scared,'" Rivera said. "I have 22 fights. I don't fear anybody. But I have to do what's best for me.

"Is Marlon going to get me a title shot? No. There's no such thing as a guaranteed title shot in the UFC, which I understand. It's a business. I don't dwell on that. But I know that a lot of people are going to want to see me fight for a belt if I beat Cruz or Garbrandt. I was supposed to get that fight; let's stick to that."