Ivan Menjivar is one of the nicest and most respectful fighters in existence.
If you're trying to get him to break down an upcoming opponent or talk trash about anyone, you are simply wasting his precious time.
That being said, once the cage doors close, he becomes a completely different animal. "The Pride of El Salvador" has looked terrific in his current UFC stint, going 3-0 with a brutal knockout victory, a hard-fought decision and then most recently a fantastically exciting first round rear naked choke which netted him a cool $50,000 for "Submission of the Night."
But don't tell Menjivar about his recent success, he's so humble that he'll just remind you that he lost his UFC debut to Matt Serra as a lightweight back in 2004.
After having returned from a near four year layoff, Menjivar is on the verge of title contention and was even briefly considered as Urijah Faber's upcoming opponent for the interim UFC bantamweight championship at UFC 149 before the nod eventually went to his then-opponent Renan Barao.
Instead, Menjivar will be looking to make his case as the first challenger for the title as he takes on promising Team Alliance 135-er Mike Easton this Saturday night (July 7, 2012) on the UFC 148 main card in Las Vegas.
In part one of our interview, Menjivar talked his gym, his recent performance and more. Today, he talks to MMAmania about respect, pleasing the fans and how he pictures victory against Mike Easton this Saturday night.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've gone 3-0 now in the UFC this past year. You had a terrific knockout, a hard-fought decision and that submission in your last bout-
Ivan Menjivar: -Well I fought before, don't forget against Matt Serra and lost.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Well, just talking about this recent stint, how would you rate your performance in the UFC the past year?
Ivan Menjivar: Oh my god, I don't know. I'm happy for what I did and I'm happy for where I am for the moment. I live in the moment. I train hard and the sport gets harder and harder. With the experience I have, I realized MMA is amazing but sometimes it's so hard for the body, working without injury and having one year, two years more. Right now, I just focus on one fight at a time and I train myself as best I can. Right now, I'm enjoying the moment and then getting back into training agin.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of injuries, with what happened to your teammate and former opponent Georges St. Pierre and how he's been out for so long, has that made you reevaluate the way you train at all?
Ivan Menjivar: Well it happened to me before too. Back then, I had the injury and I took the time and was like, "Okay, I'll take a little break," and then my first little girl and then my second boy and I decided to take a little more time off. You can never know what will happen in your life. MMA is a part of my life, training all the time and helping guys in the gym and fighting is just part of my life.
Family is more important though. Anything can change. If tomorrow I have to stop, no regrets. That's why I enjoy it now. I love fighting, but I appreciate the moment and I don't say to myself that this will last forever. I know that my fighting will have to finish one day so that's why I'm just enjoying myself right now.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You are highly regarded as one of the nicest and most respectful fighters out there. Is it ever a conflict for you to actually have to go out there and do damage to another person?
Ivan Menjivar: Well it's part of the sport. For me MMA is not a violent sport, it's a martial sport. We punch each other, take each other down, get submissions. That's not violence for me. The goal is not to injure your opponent. The goal is to finish the fight as fast as you can and if you cannot finish the fight fast then you have guys evaluating your performance like any other sport.
The goal, for me, I don't want to tear out the eyes of my opponent. I want to go there, show my training, try to finish the fight and have fun at the same time. Just like playing football or other sports, you train just like anybody else and you want to show that you're good. it's a sport. After you do a good job, it's fun and you love the sport. People will remember you that you were a good fighter or another guy was a good fighter.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're the opening bout of the UFC 148 main card and there's going to be a LOT of people watching this event because of the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen fight in the main event. Do you think you can open a lot of eyes here?
Ivan Menjivar: I just want to get out and put on the best fight I can so that way people can be happy. I'll be in the moment and it's because of the fans that I have a chance to do what I love. Putting on a great fight, it's a little bit of a way to say thanks to these people. They watch me, pay to see me live and with their friends on TV at home. I want them to scream and jump and have fun, that's what makes me happy. When they're happy, I fight better. For a moment, the hard times of life, worries, that all disappears during that 15-25 minutes when I'm fighting. If you're happy, I'm happy. That's why I do it and why I like it. It's all about other people.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Moving on to your upcoming opponent Mike Easton. He's an inch shorter than you and I think he's only the second fighter you've ever faced that's actually smaller than you. Does that change anything when you're preparing for a guy who's smaller?
Ivan Menjivar: No, not really because right now, the guy is a UFC fighter and they're all good. You're in the UFC because you're the best. Size, whether you're small or big, you can be the most dangerous guy. I just prepare for a good opponent and that's what I do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): He trains with Dominick Cruz, he's good friends with him. Do you feel that a good victory would send a statement to Cruz and the rest of the division?
Ivan Menjivar: Yeah, it can be good but one fight at a time. If I want to go there, first I have to show up and win and then we can talk about future fights after.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're visualizing success in this fight, I know visualization is a good thing over there at Tristar Gym, what are you picturing in your head.
Ivan Menjivar: I picture getting out of the ring with a big smile and people saying, "I love you. I love your fight," and people saying they want to see me fight again and they really enjoyed my fight. That's what I want people to say when I fight. That's my goal and I want to be happy. Just go there, walking out after the fight and people saying, "That was a beautiful fight." I want them to want to see me next time.
Ivan would like to thank Tristar Gym, all the fighters who train there, the Montreal Wrestling Club for helping him a lot, Fight House Management, his friends, his family and everybody who will be watching his fight. You can follow him on Twitter @IvanMenjivar.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Menjivar's experience be too much for Easton this Saturday night? Can "The Pride of El Salvidor" put his name firmly in title contention with a strong performance on the big stage?