El Salvador’s Ivan Menjivar pulled off an awesome first round rear naked choke against John ‘Prince’ Albert on last night’s UFC on FUEL TV 1 event. Recently, I picked Menjivar to win, stating it was a pick from the heart. Now let me tell you what I know. Ivan Menjivar is a force at 135 lbs, and there is a lot to back that claim.
Back in 2003, I was matchmaking for HOOKnSHOOT and a Florida based group called AFC. We were booking a Brazilian protege named Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro, a BJJ black belt from Nova Uniao that I can assure you Jose Aldo looks up to. ‘Shaolin’ eventually retired at 20-5 in MMA, but he was in the early stages of his career. Still, his skill level was such you couldn’t just book him against anyone. Ribeiro’s match for July of 2003 fell apart, and Ivan Menjivar took the replacement slot on short notice.
Well back in 2003, Menjivar, then a teenager, already had a solid 11-2 MMA record, with his only losses being at 170 lbs. He had lost to one of the toughest guys in that era (Jason Black) and another guy named Georges St Pierre. So Menjivar has been fighting the elite for the better part of a decade.
Though he took a loss, there was a lot that was impressive about Menjivar on that night. He was cut early in the fight by a knee, but he never stopped pursuing or being the aggressor. He took the fight on short notice, for not great money, and he never complained or gave less than 100 percent. Those are qualities that you cannot teach.
Check out a highlight clip of Ivan and ‘Shaolin’ – very high skill level for 2003.
Menjivar has fought a lot of the best fighters in the world at up to 170 lbs. George St Pierre and Matt Serra are two UFC welterweight champions he did well with. He is still unbelievably under 30 years old and has a lot of time left in the sport.
Look for Ivan to get the winner of the Urijah Faber – Dominick Cruz title fight at 135 lbs. His resume does have a loss to Faber on it, but he was DQ’d for a mistake kick to a downed opponent. He was doing fine in the fight!
Menjivar has been among the elite for a very long time, and more importantly this last fight shows he has not lost the hunger or desire and can fight from behind and take damage. I don’t think Dominick Cruz or Urijah Faber can beat Menjivar at the top of his game. I’m going with my heart again on this one.