Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber were opposing coaches on the first live season of The Ultimate Fighter. Thee season would culminate in a rubber match between both coaches. It was slated to be the biggest grudge-match of the bantamweight division and had the full force of UFC’s marketing machine behind it; until trajedy struck.
Cruz was forced out due to an ACL injury and Faber was told that Michael McDonald was injured and that Renan Barao didn’t want to leave Brazil to fight him, leaving Faber with the impression that he would face Ivan Menjivar. It turned out to be a ruse by UFC President Dana White, to keep the real bout under wraps. Faber later voiced his displeasure at White for not telling him until the announcement was made on live television but Menjivar was not bothered by it in the least. In an interview with MMASucka, the fighter was quoted as saying: “No, no, I wasn’t upset, first off I was fighting Barao but he helped out when the injury happened with Faber and Dominick Cruz. Injuries happen, the good thing is I’ll be on the card and a part of the show in July, that’s most important to me.”
Menjivar, instead will be taking on the friend and training partner of Cruz, Mike Easton, at UFC 148. Easton is a dual-black belt coming off two-straight wins in the UFC, but Menjivar, himself, is riding a 3-fight win streak, his most recent victory earned him “Submission of the Night” at UFC on FuelTV back in February: “All the guys in the UFC are dangerous and we are at this high-level in the sport so there are no more easy opponents in the UFC now, I’m training hard just like I will for anybody, everyone’s for real here so you have to prepare”
With all the back-and-forth trash-talking between Sonnen and Silva, it is almost refreshing to hear a fighter being more respectful of his opponent. The Canadian-Salvadoran fighter simply says: “I don’t want to hurt him, if I choke him I don’t want to choke him too hard, if he hits me, not too hard please, I want to remember the fight. Win or lose I just want to go out to the ring and have a beautiful fight.”
“The Pride of El Selvador” trains at Tristar Gym with a series of talented fighters and trainers that keep him fully prepared and help him improve his game: “I was really lucky here, in the last month I have had friends come to train with us, a lot of good guys, good wrestlers to take me down, knock me around and get me ready [laughs] they kick me, throw me and I get better as a fighter in these past two months training.”
Menjivar has won nine fights via submission and nine fights via TKO/KO. He fought Georges St. Pierre in his fifth professional fight as a welterweight (it was St. Pierre’s MMA-debut fight) in the UCC. He stepped away from the cage for a few years after an injury in 2006 and time off to raise his children. Four years later in 2010 he came back with a win and then signed with the WEC as a bantamweight. Having lost only once in this weight-class, it may be the perfect fit for him.
As a bantamweight and working his way up that ladder, he may cross paths with Faber eventually.Now that he is fighting at his home weight with a world of experience behind him at 30-years-of-age it is his time to fight his way to a championship to validate his years of dedication. Someone he might run into is Faber, who he expects is nothing like when they met in Quebec, Canada, 6 years ago at TKO 24. Menjivar lost by disqualification due to an illegal head-kick to a downed Faber: “We’re two different fighters now. We both have more experience, that was a fight at 145 [pounds] and we’re not the same now, we’ve grown up and both had a lot more training in the sport so it would be just like fighting another guy.”
In a blast from the past, here is a stockier Menjivar fighting GSP in St. Pierre’s MMA debut: