Ivan “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar (24-8-0) vs. Mike “The Hulk” Easton (12-1-0)
The bantamweight division is wide open for contenders to make a move. With the injury of the division’s current champion two top contenders will have to face off for an interim title between Uriah Faber and Renan Barao. Beyond that there is not much in way of contenders. There is Michael McDonald, but he is currently injured. It is very likely that whoever wins the interim title will have to defend it before Cruz returns, and with a win in this fight either of Menjivar or Easton could easily make a case for a shot.
Since returning from a four year hiatus Ivan has went 4-1 in the last two years, and his only loss came to the highly ranked Brad Pickett in the WEC. His UFC career this time has been flawless, going 3-0, and that includes two finishes within the first round. Ivan is a true veteran of the sport having fought as high as 170 where he took on current training partner GSP in his first professional bout. His strength comes from being so well rounded holding 18 finishes 9 by knockout and 9 by submission.
Mike has not lost a bout in nearly 5 years, and currently owns a 2-0 record in the UFC. He may not have the most finishes, but he has proven he can get the job done. With a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Lloyd Irvin, Easton’s strength comes from his grappling. He likes to control the top game, and he will try to take the fight to the ground as he will most likely be outclassed by Menjivar on the feet.
The Bottom Line: Easton has the ability to grind out a decision win, but Menjivar will not allow it. Menjivar has good enough BJJ to stay out of trouble, and he will finish it on the feet in the third.