Despite Impressive UFC 154 Win, Ivan Menjivar “Not Running After the Belt”, Wants to “Get Better and Get More Popular” First
By Kelsey Mowatt
UFC 154 was a good night for Ivan Menjivar, as the Tristar fighter tapped out Azamat Gashimov in the first round, took home “Submission of the Night” honors, and extended his overall Octagon record to 4-1. After dropping a unanimous decision loss to Mike Easton in July, some might argue that Menjivar’s recent performance has returned “The Pride of El Salvador” into the bantamweight contender mix. The 30 year-old veteran, however, doesn’t think so.
“Right now I’m not in the top ten,” said Menjivar, who earlier this year was widely considered to be one of the candidates to face Urijah Faber for the interim title, after champion Dominick Cruz was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury. “For me right now, let me fight. Let me get more fights because I’m not that popular…or if people said ‘oh if he wins again, he’s going to get a shot’, I would say no. That’s too fast. Maybe in three, four more fights.”
“I’m not running after the belt,” Menjivar (25-9) added. “I want to do one fight at a time, get better and get more popular, so that one day if I go for the belt people will know me.”
If Menjivar is concerned about his profile, or a lack thereof, then his win over Gashimov on November 17th will likely help. After being taken down by Gashimov shortly into their preliminary bout, Menjivar started hunting after the Russian fighter’s arm. Although Gashimov was able to defend Menjivar’s submission attempt at first, the bantamweight stayed with it and forced his opponent to tap out with a nicely executed armbar.
“At the beginning of the fight I felt like he maybe wasn’t very comfortable with the striking and he took me down,” the Montreal fighter recalled. “I thought to myself, okay, this is the first round, we’re not sweating, let’s try for a good flip or a good submission….the first five minutes you’re not sweating so it’s the time. I tried the triangle, he escaped, armbar, he escaped well, and my third movement was supposed to be a flip. I tried to hook his leg, but he lifted me up, so that’s why I tried for the armbar.”
“We do that technique all the time in training, people know it, but it’s good to see on TV,” Menjivar furthered. “It’s a good show.”
Gashimov appeared to be in considerable pain during and after the fight ending submission.
“I felt something there,” said Menjivar when asked if he felt anything pop during the armbar. “I don’t know if his arm was on my jockstrap, his elbow, I don’t know. I hope it didn’t break and that it’s only a ligament stretch. I did feel him tap…I feel him tapping my leg and soon as the referee touched me I removed everything. I think he’s going to be okay.”
The technique earned Menjivar “Submission of the Night” and an extra $70,000, which of course will come in handy for the veteran and his family. It wasn’t that long ago that Menjivar walked away from active competition in 2006, due in part, to the compensation structure that existed in the sport at the time.
“When you start the fight you don’t think about that,” said Menjivar, while discussing the award. “You don’t think about the money. You can ask Georges (St. Pierre); he doesn’t think about all the money he’s going to make…you only think about how you’re going to perform. You think about winning, not getting hurt and putting on a beautiful fight in the cage. After you come out and sit down, you can relax, and think about that.”
“I was the second fight of the night, so then I thought ‘oh, maybe no one else will get a good submission,” Menjivar furthered. “Maybe I can win it. That was fun. People beside me were saying ‘maybe you’ll win Submission of the Night.’ It’s fun. The money will help. You never know when my next fight is. I don’t know if I’ll have an injury next week, so it’s extra money; we’ll save it in the bank and I don’t do crazy stuff. I’m not going to do Black Friday and buy stuff.”