An interesting scrap of bantamweights on the UFC 148 main card may very well outperform any other fight on the card. With Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton, we see a fight that isn't necessarily a "classic" matchup by any means. Each fighter brings a distinct set of skills, and each man has certain "compliments" to their opponent's strengths and weaknesses. Add to the fact that they're two of the quickest bantamweights around, and a barn burner is inevitable.
There are two main components of this fight that will be important, and this will probably come down to who is not quite as weak at their opponent's main strength. The places where this fight will probably be determined are in range striking and when the two are tied up, either on the ground or standing. Where we have Easton's wrestling and strength, we have Menjivar's scrambling ability and submission game. What happens if Menjivar is on top? Will Easton be able to fight off his back? Would Menjivar give up control to take the fight standing? And then, where Menjivar may have an advantage standing, Easton may be able to stifle him with constant movement and pressure. Even with masterful striking, it's hard to land shots when your opponent is never in the same spot. When Easton's to the right, a punch is thrown, and Easton is already to the left. Will that be enough to shut down the striking prowess of Menjivar? Or is Easton's movement too sporadic for his own good? Expect this fight to be contested everywhere, with each fighter having a compliment to the other's strong suit.
To get an appreciation of this fight, it is important to look at the athletic ability of both fighters. Easton is a relentless pressure fighter, with tremendous speed and power to boot. Menjivar likewise is a very quick fighter, but where he may not be too strong, he is amazingly coordinated and explosive, and his timing is impeccable. When it comes to fight IQ, a clear advantage goes to Menjivar, as he is able to effortlessly transition in scrambles and knows how to work his way out of a tough spot, whereas Easton tends to let his aggressive style get to his head. Although Easton may be a better athlete, Menjivar has knowledge and experience in his corner. He's no stranger to fighting men who are better athletes than he is, the man was GSP's first professional fight, and he even made it competitive. Now, 35 pounds lighter, he should know how to deal with a higher level of athleticism.
Another key to this fight will be what happens in transitions, and who will be able to transition quicker. When Menjivar is looking for a home for a big kick, will he be able to stop a takedown? When Easton is trying to pass guard, will he be ready to defend a sweep or submission? Each facet of their games leads directly into another, and it comes down purely to reaction time. When they're moving at such a high pace, who thinks fast first? The dynamics of this fight alone make for an elaborate chess battle played out over seconds and milliseconds to decide the dominant fighter in whatever position they're forced to fight. Whoever's head is in it more, and whoever is more willing to dig deep, will probably come out on top here.
So, who will reign victorious? It's hard to say when both fighters have such complex, well-rounded skillsets. Where we think one fighter may win, they may be dominated, and that's all I want from a fight. A tense, back-and-forth exchange between two of the world's best.