by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
Vinny Magalhaes’ “TUF” experience didn’t start as planned, but everything worked out for the best anyways.
When teams were being selected for the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Magalhaes assumed he’d be on coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s red team. Nogueira and blue team coach Frank Mir agreed–it was a “Brazilian thing.”
Then Mir got control of the first pick, and everything changed. Krzysztof Soszynski was the first blue shirt, and when Nogueira picked “golden boy” Ryan Bader first, Mir snatched up Magalhaes.
Looking back on it now, the UFC newcomer is glad he didn’t put on the red shirt.
“I didn’t want to be training with the guy who I was supposed to fight in the final,” he said. “It was better for me not to be on Nogueira’s team.”
The 23 year-old light heavyweight said he expected to be in the finals from the beginning. His jiu-jitsu credentials gave him confidence, but it was also a sense that his MMA record – an early gauge of show favorites – did not reflect his abilities. Magalhaes felt he had rushed into competition too soon, and paid for it.
Since arriving in the States, he had trained with a world-renowned camp in Team Quest South. Though his stand-up skills lagged behind his jiu-jitsu, he felt he had more than enough to beat his rivals.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t respect anybody,” he said. “I didn’t go to the competition just to be another competitor; I always go to win.”
His blue shirt didn’t stop him from seeking out Nogueira’s help, though. Magalhaes says it was more or less every man for himself on coach Mir’s team.
“I even asked them a couple times to train with his team,” he said. “I didn’t have training partners to train with, except for the coaches. I had Frank train with me, Demian Maia, Robert Drysdale. But the fighters – just Tom Lawlor was training with me, and Eliot Marshall and Krzysztof were doing their own thing.”
Magalhaes and Nogueira have now made amends for a spat over Magalhaes’ comments about the UFC interim heavyweight champion’s jiu-jitsu skills. The up-and-comer is now welcome at Nogueira’s gym. The same goes for Soszynski, who claimed Magalhaes didn’t like to take punches in the heat of battle.
The young Brazilian’s attention is now on Bader, particularly about comments he made about keeping the fight standing.
“In my opinion, he’s just got plan A, and that’s it,” Magalhaes comments.
Plan A does not include keeping the fight standing. The way Magalhaes sees it, when Bader senses trouble, he will go back to the game he knows best.
“Bader’s not a striker,” he put it bluntly. “I don’t know why he thinks he has this big advantage on the feet. I think if I start to beat him up, he’s going to become a wrestler and going to try to take me down. Once he takes me down, he’s going to be on my game.”
Should he submit Bader on Saturday at The Palms, it would be the perfect end to an uncertain beginning.