by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
On Thursday, November 2nd when the IFL returns to Portland, Oregon for the semi-finals of this year’s World Team Tournament, Carlos Newton’s Toronto Dragons will lock horns with the defending Team Champion Quad City Silverbacks coached by Pat Miletich.
Originally it appeared as if the Dragons may be overmatched by the Silverbacks, but things just got more interesting thanks to the IFL’s newest acquisition, Canadian/El Salvadorian sensation Ivan Menjivar.
As Menjivar told MMAWeekly this past weekend, he became a member of the Dragons at the invitation of the team’s legendary coach himself.
“When I was in Japan [for K-1] I caught up with Carlos Newton,” explained Ivan. “I know him from when I started fighting and I saw him all the time. So he needed one replacement for his team, a 155lb guy, he told me, ‘You are what we need on the team to continue fighting [through the tournament].'”
“So I asked him to tell me about this organization [IFL] and he started to tell me the advantages of it. It’s something new, new rules, fighting on a team and that it’s going to be getting bigger in the United States and I really like to try something new for the sport – that’s how it becomes more popular – so I said, ‘Yes,'” continued Menjivar.
Another one of the advantages of the IFL that Ivan was quick to point out is the pay structure that allows fighters to receive a monthly stipend in addition to their fight purse.
“He [Newton] told me we could fight almost every other month and they are going to pay us money every month between the fights,” said Menjivar. “So that’s very interesting for a young guy like me who trains to make fighting a career. I’m really open to the idea so I want to try it.”
When it comes to Ivan’s IFL debut in November, he’ll be matched up with one of the best fighters the IFL has to offer, Bart Palaszewski, a fighter that Menjivar isn’t completely unfamiliar with.
“I met Bart last night at a show, he’s a nice guy and he looks big [laughs],” exclaimed Ivan. “So for me I have to gain weight, train well…fight for me, fight for the team, don’t get hurt and continue fighting.”
People familiar with Menjivar knows he normally fights at 145lbs, but with no such weight class in the IFL team format, he has to step up to 155lbs and that in itself presents its own challenges, challenges that Ivan feels he can prepare for.
“Yes you can feel the [additional] weight, there’s a difference, and you can feel it a lot,” admitted Menjivar. “If I train well I should be okay. That’s fortunate for me that I can train well for this fight.”
That training will be handled at one of the premier schools in Canada, Tristar Gym, home to some of the most talented fighters in the country.
“We have fun here, we train a lot, but we have fire, we’re serious too, we don’t play around all the time,” commented Ivan of the atmosphere at Tristar. “So for [Georges] St. Pierre, David [Loiseau], me, the Vigneault brothers [Stephane and Steve], we have a great relationship here, so it’s great training for us here.”
So now just a couple weeks out from his IFL debut, Ivan knows there’s a lot of expectation on him to do well for not only himself but the Dragons…and as a fighter who enjoys challenges, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ll try to make a good show first and win so we can get to the finals,” concluded Menjivar. “You fight for you but you also fight for your team so you can keep fighting and make more money…so there is pressure that is different, it’s new, but I like that.”