By Dwight Wakabayashi
Ivan Menjivar is as easygoing as they come as far as cage fighters are concerned and there is a method to his happy-go-lucky madness.
Menjivar credits that approach for much of his recent success in the UFC cage with four wins in his last five times out. The Salvadoran-Canadian veteran of the game will take on superstar Urijah Faber this weekend at UFC 157 in Anaheim in a pivotal bantamweight fight to determine who will remain among the very top contenders in the 135-pound division.
This is also a rematch as the two faced each other back in 2006 in Quebec under a regional promotion, where the Montreal-based Menjivar was disqualified in the second round for throwing an illegal kick while Faber was down, giving Faber the victory.
This is a new day and a brand new fight as far as Menjivar is concerned, and he spoke with In The Cage With Bards host Carlin Bardsley on NextSportsStar.com recently to talk about the rematch with Faber.
“We are both different fighters than before, we both changed our style, are in better shape and we have more experience,” Menjivar said. “Now, we don’t care about cameras, about shining or talking to people. We are both professionals.”
There was a lot of emotion from people around Menjivar following his loss to Faber, thinking that Menjivar needed to settle some unfinished business with him and fast to get his proper place in the pecking order of the fight world. Menjivar is a family man, who is as nonchalant as they come in his attitude towards fights and the fight game.
He was quick to put a calm on the emotional storm.
“After the fight people were telling me, you have to fight him again, you have to beat him. I was like, ‘Guys, it’s just a fight. If we are going to fight again, we are gonna do it.’ So now is the time, we signed so we will prepare for that.”
Menjivar has been in the game a long time and has come to a peace in his place in the sport. He has given a lot and been around and is no longer worried about status or place in the rankings, but more about putting on a good show for the fans.
“I’m going there to make a beautiful fight,” Menjivar stated. “Win or lose, I don’t care, I just want to show people I am a good athlete, I am prepared and I am there to put on a good show for them.”
Menjivar has been close to the title before in his career and is coming off a stunning submission win over Azamat Gashimov at UFC 154 in Montreal in November. Faber is coming off a decision loss against interim champion Renan Barao in June of last year, and needs this win to stay relevant and in the title picture for the remainder of 2013. Menjivar, who trains at Montreal’s Tristar gym, is a well-rounded fighter with slick and dangerous submissions, while the Californian Faber is a power wrestler who likes to reign down ground and pound.
A win for Menjivar could be the biggest of his career, as the Team Alpha Male founder Faber is a surefire future Hall of Famer who is only slightly on the downside of a storied career. Menjivar’s biggest name win to date would probably be a submission victory over a young Joe Lauzon in a small show in Quebec in 2005. The Canadian pioneer has losses against some of the best in the world in Georges St-Pierre, Matt Serra, Faber, Caol Uno, Brad Pickett and Bart Palaszewski.
Faber has less to gain with a win in this fight, but he is in need of a statement to silence many of the critics who say he is no longer worthy of the title fight status that he has enjoyed in the past. Faber has beaten everyone in his division, short of the champions and should be heavily favoured in this fight.
It doesn’t matter to Menjivar, as long as it is a good show.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.