It’s been nearly three years since ‘Ultimate Fighter’ season 8 runner-up Vinny Magalhaes has been in the UFC, but he’s ready to come back.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, who recently wrapped up a gold medal at the prestigious Abu Dhabi submission tournament, has won his last five fights in a row, captured and defended the M-1 Global light heavyweight title, and now he’s looking for a new challenge.
Magalhaes’ focus has changed as well. A few years ago when he was in the UFC, the Brazilian was pretty much a grappler who dabbled in the other arts laid out on his MMA palette.
Now a complete mixed martial artist, he believes it’s time to return to the UFC and show off the new and improved Vinny Magalhaes.
“100-percent that’s all I’m doing,” Magalhaes told MMAWeekly Radio about his dedication to MMA. “Focusing on my striking game, my wrestling, and just focus on MMA and nothing else. I don’t want to do like I was 3 or 4 years ago, I was doing a little bit of everything, but I wasn’t great at anything.”
The last time UFC fans saw Magalhaes in the Octagon it was losing a decision to former housemate Eliot Marshall. Three years and a lot of learning later, Magalhaes is ready to show what he’s been up to since exiting the promotion.
He explains in the past his ideology about MMA was simply get a fight to the ground and he would submit anybody. When that didn’t happen however, there wasn’t much of a back up plan.
“I had that mentality that I’m a jiu-jitsu guy. I mean you can count on one hand how many high level grapplers are competing in MMA and I’m one of them, and I had the mentality that if I get taken down I’m going to submit this guy, and likely that would happen, but think about it. Who’s going to be dumb enough to take a world class grappler down? With that mentality I just thought well if people take me down, I’m going to submit them,” said Magalhaes. “Then I would lose fights like I lost to Eliot Marshall cause the whole fight was standing, when I had a clear advantage on the ground.
“The biggest thing I changed was the mentality, I’ve got the train like a professional fighter.”
What really put Magalhaes back in focus was a knee injury in 2010 that put him on the sidelines for six months. It was during that time while watching teammates like Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard and Mike Pyle train every facet of their fight game on a daily basis to make him realize what he’s been missing out on.
So Magalhaes recruited coach Mark Beecher to take over his day-to-day training, and the end result was a much better, much more well rounded Vinny Magalhaes.
Now after a very successful 2011 that saw him pull off a ‘submission of the year’ candidate with a gogoplata, as well as a ‘knockout of the year’ performance where he head kicked Mikhail Zayats into the middle of next year, Magalhaes is ready to get back in the cage with the top fighters in the sport.
Perception or not, Magalhaes knows those top fighters are all in the UFC.
“As a goal for me, I want to go back to the UFC. I feel like that’s where the best fighters are, and I feel like I’ve groomed my skills to compete against the best guys. What’s happening right now, I’m beating people and it’s like people are saying you’re beating cans, which is not true. But the fans act that way, if you’re not in the UFC automatically you’re a can, that’s just how people see you,” Magalhaes stated.
“I want people to recognize when I beat people, I’m not beating cans.”
If 2012 goes accordingly, Magalhaes wants to be back in the UFC and fighting in the light heavyweight division sooner rather than later. His focus will no longer be drawn between the MMA world and the grappling world because he’s putting all of his jiu-jitsu competitions to the side except for possibly competing in the Abu Dhabi’s again, but that’s not for another year.
Magalhaes wants to prove that he belongs among the best 205lb fighters in the world, and he knows the UFC is the place to do that.
“I want to be one of the best. I want to be a champion one day,” said Magalhaes. “Where the best are, they’re in the UFC, so that’s where I need to go.”