UFC 157 sees the rematch of the "California kid" Urijah Faber against the "Pride of El Salvador" Ivan Menjivar. Faber comes in off the back of a loss to Renan Barao his record stands at 26-6 whilst Menjivar most recently submitted Azamat Gashimov via armbar and has a record of 25-9 losses. The two combatants fought in 2006 where Faber won via a DQ in what had been a competitive bout up until that point. So how do the two match up today in the year 2013?
Menjivar is a decent striker who mixes up his offence and throws unorthodox spinning back fists and kicks which add an air of unpredictability to his stand up game. He has a few KO victories on his resume, Menjivar can overwhelm lesser strikers with his volume and mixture of strikes but against more accomplished strikers he is easily countered due to his sometimes reckless striking and open defense. Menjivar does not particulary excel at any one area of standup fighting but he is well rounded enough to hold his own against other mid level strikers.
Faber however is not a mid level striker and even in losses to Dominic Cruz and Renan Barao he shown improved striking and accurate boxing. Faber had not shown much one shot knockout power but he has the power to daze an opponent and then capitalize with his proficient submission game. Faber is a good boxer I believe that he will be able to counter Menjivar on the feet given the weakness in Menjivar's stand up. Faber also has a good muay thai skill set and strings together seamless combo's of knees, punches and elbows. The overall advantage in striking in this fight goes to Faber as he is the quicker and more technical striker of the two.
In the grappling aspect of this fight who has the advantage? Again Menjivar is a decent grappler and well rounded from both top position and also on his back. He has the majority of his wins by submission and his last two victories have come via submission, Menjivar has only been submitted once in his career. Menjivar is strong at 135 pounds and has fought as high as Welterweight in his career which normally enables him to secure a takedowns through his strength and tenacity. Faber's grappling skill set negates what Menjivar can do and then betters it in a few area's. Faber himself is an adept submission fighter with 14 wins via submission and has never been submitted in his career. Faber is a great wrestler and has good mma wrestling in chaining together his takedown attempts with strikes and threatening with submissions. His strength, speed and technique will allow him to get the upper hand in any scramble with Menjivar and end up in top position.
From top position Faber should be able to avoid Menjivar's submission attempts and do damage with short punches and elbows, then threatening with guard passes and submissions. In the grappling aspect of this fight I give a large advantage to Faber who's overall athleticism coinciding with his technique will be too much for Menjivar.
What are some factors that we should be aware of when betting this fight? This fight will be in Faber's hometown of California meaning that he will have the huge support during this fight. Faber has shown in the past that he performs well coming off a loss, interestingly each time Faber has lost he has rebounded with a submission victory. Menjivar has now become a full time mixed martial artist where as before he juggled his MMA career with a full time job will this lead to a more evolved fighter stepping up to face Faber.
When looking at this fight as a whole I don't see Menjivar winning outside of a crazy spinning backfist/kick that lands. If this does happen I believe it to be a low probability around 10%. Faber has a multitude of ways to win this fight whether it is on the feet, via submission or grinding out a decision and bloodying Menjivar on the ground. Faber is the better athlete and more proficient in every aspect of mixed martial arts in comparison to Menjivar.
I would advise a bet of 2 units on Faber at the current line of -350 and would play this up to -400 if you miss the best price.