Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes is a 4th-degree black belt under Master Carlos Gracie Jr. He’s been training for over 25 years. From his white belt to his back belt, he trained on what he calls, “the sacred mats of Gracie Barra Rio.” A lifelong student, practitioner, and professor of Jiu-Jitsu, Draculino has an impressive Jiu-Jitsu competition and instructional background. He currently runs Gracie Barra Texas and Gracie Barra BH.
At 39 years of age, Draculino’s been out of MMA for about five years, but is making his return debut on August 21st on the Strikeforce Houston card. He says that whether he fights or not, Jiu-Jitsu is his art, lifestyle, and work, and that he represents it with pride, on and off the mats, and in and out of the cage.
Why did you decide to take this Strikeforce fight?
I got a call from Saul Soliz, one of the matchmakers. He said that they wanted to put guys from Houston in the show that could fill the arena up. At the beginning I said, “Maybe.” Then I thought about it and said to myself, “It’s like they are inviting you to the biggest party in town, with the best seats, etc, and you won’t show up?” That’s when I made my decision! My opponent so far is Rocky Long. He has 45 fights. He’s a guy who never quits. He’s really tough and comes from a boxing background. He’s a little taller than me and looks a little bigger, but this is quite normal, as I am not a big or strong guy at all.
How many MMA fights have you had and what’s your record?
My record in Sherdog is 1-1. I did some things in the past, vale-tudo style, but it was more like a dojo challenge and I did not get paid, and they did not put me up in a hotel or anything like that. This was back in the jungle days! I competed in Japan in the G1 promotion. They had MMA fights, but my match was against a guy from Shooto, Hiroshi Umemura, and a sport match, so people think that I fought MMA in Japan, but my match was sport BJJ.
Why have you now decided to compete in MMA?
I always liked and trained in what is now called MMA (before vale-tudo) at the first Gracie Barra school in Rio, located at Avenida Olegario Maciel in Rio de Janeiro. I began my training in boxing because of Ralph Gracie, who used to love to train boxing and no-gi. So, as I stayed a lot at the school, Ralph beat me up pretty bad, but I learned something in the process. Then I got hooked. It’s weird. Some people say, “You’re crazy,” but there’s something about MMA that attracts me to it. Don’t ask me what it is, but there is something! Maybe the challenge? The adrenaline? I can guarantee it’s not money or fame. They aren’t paying me that well and in Jiu-Jitsu circles people already know me a little, so who knows……
How long have you been preparing for the fight and what have you been doing to prepare for it?
I train pretty much every day and work out at least two times a week. It’s not hard for me to get in shape. I have been training for one month now specifically for this fight, and I have a couple more weeks to go. I’m training all the aspects of a fight: conditioning, striking, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and mixing it up also. It’s hard, especially because I am not a kid anymore!
What other belts, arts, skills and talents do you have and how long have you been training in each discipline?
For an MMA fight you have to cover all areas. Jiu-Jitsu is my bread and butter, but I have a good amount of time in boxing and muay thai training. I learned a lot from great coaches in Brazil, such as Master Olimpio Cunha in muay thai, and Ely Pereira in kickboxing. In boxing, I had Wagner, Coelho, Cezario, and Washington. All of them belong to the Nobre Arte team in Rio. In the U.S., I had the honor of training with Master Rafael Cordeiro at Affliction. Even though it was one day, I will never forget that training session. Master Rafael simply made me a part of the group and worked with me one-on-one for about an hour in the cage, giving me the best tips and showing incredible techniques. He is a true Master in the art. In Houston, I have the great support of my student and friend, Kristen Sommers, who trains me in conditioning and kickboxing. My students from GBBH and GBT push me hard and give me great training support.
You’re entering this event with a student of yours, Chad “Robo” Robichaux. Have you been training together and how does it feel to put on a show in your “hometown” of Houston with him?
Chad is a great MMA fighter. Undefeated. He has a school in the Woodlands, one hour from my school. We train together often and he is a great training partner. Fighting in Houston is a lot of pressure because we’ll have a big crowd there to support and see us, but I try not to focus on putting any additional obligations on my shoulders, since I will do my best. Hopefully, I will perform my best and get the victory. Chad, too.
How does Jiu-Jitsu help you with your confidence in the cage? How has it shaped your life? What lessons have you learned from it that you can apply to daily life and in the cage?
Jiu-Jitsu is the art of the samurais. The Gracie family is a clan with several samurais in spirit. We, their students, were taught to be healthy, fair, brave, kind, and loyal. I will carry those lessons in my spirit through eternity. All these elements are incorporated into my life in everything I do. MMA fights are just a small portion of my life. The lessons that the Gracie family and Jiu-Jitsu gave me are applied in all my daily actions and thoughts.
When you fight MMA, do you feel like you’re representing Jiu-Jitsu or is it a completely separate sport to you?
Gracie Barra is my family. Master Carlos is the chief of a big and strong organization. He is our master and I belong to that organization. Even though MMA is not the main activity of Gracie Barra, everybody knows that I am Gracie Barra, so, like it or not, I am a GB guy in the cage.
How do you perceive MMA? Do you see it as a sport or just a fight in a cage?
It is a sport. Like Renzo Gracie said: the toughest sport in the world, where there are more techniques involved than a Russian ballet!
Is there anything you’d like to say to your students before your big fight?
I really believe that you have to practice what you preach. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. If you have a dream and believe in yourself, don’t let anyone put you down and say you can’t do it. Just try it, if your heart says to. It’s very easy to criticize and point the finger at others when you’re not willing to do what they have the guts to do, or love to do. It’s important to at least TRY! To my students all over the world: you are the best and I am your number one fan. I will always try my best to not let you down and I appreciate all the help and support that you have always give me.
Check out the complete gallery of photos taken by Luca Atalla: