McFarlin attended Willowridge High School in Houston, Texas, where he led his team to win the state championship in his senior year, as he averaged 15.9 points, 14.9 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.2 steals. McFarlin played college basketball at Oklahoma State University, and helped the Cowboys to a Final Four appearance in 2004, where the team lost to Georgia Tech on a late-game basket. He is one of four Oklahoma State players to have over 1,000 points, 700 rebounds, and 100 blocks, the other three being Byron Houston, Leroy Combs and Bryant Reeves.
In the 2006-07 NBA season, McFarlin was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, but was traded on December 19, 2006, along with NBA superstar Allen Iverson for two draft picks, Andre Miller and Joe Smith. He was immediately waived.
McFarlin later played in Poland with SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg. In 2010, he played for the Bendigo Braves of the South East Australian Basketball League. He made the league's all star team and led the league in rebounds and rebounds per game.
In 2011 Ivan returned to the Bendigo Braves.
After spending 2012 playing in China, the Bendigo Braves announced that Ivan would be returning to play a third season with the Braves in 2013.
McFarlin is the son of Delphine and Jerry Jordan of Missouri City, Texas.