As UFC bantamweight Irwin Rivera is being held at a behavioral health facility in the wake of his alleged stabbing of his two sisters, his family is coming to his defense.
Lezlye Rivera, Irwin Rivera’s sister, on Friday posted an update to her Facebook account that detailed her brother’s behavior leading up to the alleged attack. She wrote that she and her sister, Kelly Rivera, were “fine n well” after the alleged attack and wanted to “clear the air” on what happened – and express support for their brother.
“We love our brother to the fullest and anyone that knows us n [sic] our family knows exactly how much we all LOVE and mean to each other and knows jst [sic] how close we as a family are,” she wrote in the Facebook message, which was verified to MMA Fighting by her mother, Susana Campos. “All we wish is for him to get the professional mental help he so desperately needs.”
Rivera, 31, is accused of repeatedly stabbing his sisters early Thursday morning in Boynton Beach, Fla. Police found a 22-year-old woman “covered in blood with multiple wounds,” and she told them she and her sister had been attacked by her brother and stabbed with a pair of brass-knuckles. Rivera was apprehended four hours later by police and admitted to the act, per an incident report issued by the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department. He told police he thought he killed his sisters and had done it because “it was his purpose” and was “told to by a higher power.”
Per the incident report, the 22-year-old woman had two collapsed lungs. A report from ESPN.com said one victim was in stable condition while the other was in critical condition after the attack.
Irwin Rivera made his first appearance in court on Friday morning via public defender and was issued a no-contact order against his family, a Palm Beach County court spokesperson told MMA Fighting on Friday afternoon. After probable cause was found on two attempted murder charges, he was ordered to be held without bail. An emergency motion was granted to use the Baker Act, which allows people with mental illnesses to be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours in a mental health treatment facility, the spokesperson said.
Rivera was ordered to be held in a locked unit at the behavioral health facility because he was unable to get proper treatment at the jail, the spokesperson said. When he meets the criteria to leave the behavioral health facility, he will be transported back to jail. He is due back in court on March 4 for an initial case conference.
Lezlye Rivera wrote she traveled to Florida this past weekend to check on her brother because he was “not sleeping or talking like himself and completely just losing interest in his training, which we all know is what he lives to do.”
“Unfortunately his mental stage was worse then [sic] we could of imagined and before we could help him he completely broke,” she wrote. “This is not easy for me or my family, but I ask to pleeeeesse keep MY BROTHER in your prayers, pray he can stabilize and come back to us bc [sic] sometime withing the past 24 hours his mentality has been completely corrupted into something unrecognizable.”
Campos, meanwhile, told Milenio, “My son lost his memory and something bad took hold of him for a few days” and “his mind was blocked, he was no longer him.”
In a statement, the UFC said the allegations against Rivera are “extremely troubling” and the promotion is conducting an investigation into his case. In the meantime, the bantamweight’s career has been put on pause. Rivera’s management firm, Dominance MMA, had been “exhibiting behavior consistent with mental health issues.”
Here is Lezlye Rivera’s full Facebook post.