Youth will meet experience in a bantamweight battle at UFC 133, as Nick Pace (MMA debut: 11/21/08) will meet Ivan Menjivar (MMA debut: 1/27/01) in the final preliminary fight on Facebook. The first thing Menjivar will have to watch out for is the submission ability of Pace. Pace only has a 6-1 record, but among those six wins by rear-naked choke, brabo choke, and pillory choke. That last one took place in Pace’s UFC debut last December against Will Campuzano, and gave him his first win against a UFC-quality opponent, signaling that not only does he belong in the UFC, but he’s likely to get better from here on out.
Menjivar, on the other hand, may have made his MMA debut ten years ago, but it’s hard to say that he should feel the effects of the 9-Year Rule. The reason is that he went on hiatus between November 2006, when he lost a split decision to Bart Palaszewski, and June 2010. Because the hypothesis behind the 9-Year Rule is that fighters are broken down from the effects of training, injuries, and mental fatigue, I can’t apply the rule to Menjivar. And while Menjivar lost a unanimous decision at WEC 53 to Brad Pickett, he bounced back in a big way at UFC 129 in Toronto, as he crushed Charlie Valencia with an elbow, winning by TKO just 90 seconds into the fight.
Still, as easy as Menjivar is to root for, I can’t sugarcoat his relatively thin resume. Despite a record of 22-8 going into the fight, Menjivar’s top three wins are against Miki Shida, Joe Lauzon (not bad), and Valencia. Meanwhile, Menjivar has losses against Caol Uno and Matt Serra to go along with the losses to Pickett and Palaszewski. That’s not to say that there’s necessarily anything wrong with a bantamweight losing to quality lightweights (or Georges St. Pierre for that matter), but at some point, Menjivar has to start winning on a more consistent basis if he wants to move up the ladder. Valencia was a good start, but more wins are needed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Menjivar’s resume is still better than Pace’s. Then again, it’s hard to judge a young fighter like Pace too much on his resume; Pace has only challenged quality opposition twice, losing to Demetrious Johnson (no shame at all there), and beating Will Campuzano.
SILVA PREDICTION: IVAN MENJIVAR (26.01) OVER NICK PACE (25.00)
While Pace has real striking ability (as demonstrated by the presence of a flying knee KO on his record), his fight history suggests that he’ll want to take Menjivar down and work for a submission. I think Menjivar’s experience will win out here: he’s a very strong fighter at bantamweight, and I think he’ll be able to defend Pace’s takedown attempts and out-strike him. It’ll be a tough fight for both guys, but I like Menjivar to win it.