Menjivar (25-10 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is currently ranked No. 10 in the UFC’s bantamweight division while Reis (16-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), winner of the 2004 Jiu Jitsu World Championships as a brown belt, makes his very first appearance in the UFC after a long stint in Bellator, though he was released from the promotion following a losing streak. He has since gone 4-0 in smaller promotions. Reis is also a replacement for Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto who was forced to pull out of the fight due to injury.
Reis is stepping up on somewhat of a short notice for this fight as he was originally scheduled to fight at UFC Fight Night 28 against Hugo Viana, but that fight was cancelled due to injury. With Yamamoto stepping out of this fight also due to injury, Reis was more than willing to be his replacement to make his UFC debut. Reis is rather green in the striking department, especially when compared to a season veteran like Menjivar, and his chin has been cracked in two of his last five fights once by Eduardo Dantas and once by Patricio Freire. His specialty is certainly in his grappling, with a black belt under Robert Godoi, earning himself a 50% finish rate with submissions in 16 victories. Reis has shown decent wrestling ability to take the fight to the ground, though mostly against a lower tier of opponents as he has failed to do the same against Bellator’s top ranked featherweights and bantamweights.
Menjivar is a very aggressive fighter and has been fighting in the UFC since 2010. His first round “Submission of the Night” victory over Azamat Gashimov earned him a crack at top contender Urijah Faber, though Menjivar lost by first round submission himself. Menjivar’s success comes from being a very complete mixed martial artist and has the ability to cause damage from any position. He also holds a 2″ height advantage over Reis in this fight, a testament to the size difference which will play into a factor in this fight. Menjivar has shown a susceptibility to being taken down as we saw in his last two fights against Faber and Gashimov, but Reis does not have that same take down capability which will allow Menjivar to open up with his striking. Menjivar has earned himself nine knockouts in his longevous career as well as 10 submissions, but don’t expect him to test his grappling against a BJJ fighter the caliber of Reis.
Prediction: Ivan Menjivar def. Wilson Reis via TKO in round 2.
While Reis is an excellent grappler and is certainly an entertaining fighter to watch, his signing to the UFC kind of confuses me. The UFC has said time and time again that they aren’t interested in Bellator’s leftovers, but in a sense that is exactly what Reis is considering he was released from the promotion following a 2-3 stint losing twice by brutal knockout. Regardless, Reis has his work cut out for him in his debut. Menjivar is a very similar fighter to the two fighters that knocked him out – he’s explosive, he’s well rounded, and he’s savvy. Reis certainly has tools that could finish this fight but his problem is he will have a hard time getting the fight to the place where he can use those tools – on the ground. Menjivar will likely utilize his superior striking as well as good footwork to prevent Reis from closing the distance and taking him down. As we’ve seen in the past, the chin of Reis is questionable. Menjivar certainly has the power and technique to score a knockout or TKO, something that I believe will happen in the second round after Reis becomes frustrated with a lack of success in take downs.