Having gotten cut from the UFC after back-to-back losses in 2009, Vinny “Pezão” Magalhães filtered through a few smaller events before arriving at M-1 Global, where he settled in as the promotion’s light heavyweight champion. Making his return to the major league at UFC 152 on the 22nd of last month, the Jiu-Jitsu black belt tapped out Croatia’s Igor Porkrajac with an armbar 1:14 minutes into the second round. In an exclusive interview with GRACIEMAG.com, Vinny takes a look at the fight, explains what his next step in the UFC will be, discusses his training partner Chael Sonnen, and much more.
GRACIEMAG.com: How would you classify your UFC return?
VINNY MAGALHÃES: Everything went just as I’d expected it would. My coaches and I put together a good game plan and did a good job of studying my opponent. When I entered the octagon, at no point was I nervous. After all, I already knew what I had to do to win. The fight went in my favor the whole time. I didn’t run into any trouble at all. The only moment that was perhaps rough was when I lost that attempted armbar, because I could have ended the fight sooner.
Describe that armbar in detail.
When he took me down, I started working on a triangle as soon as we hit the canvas. However, as he was pressing me up against the fencing, I couldn’t find the room to sink the triangle. So I decided to transition to the armbar. I do that move a lot, especially when I’m pressed up against the cage.
What was your training for Igor Pokrajac like?
I did my training in group at Xtreme Couture but did the intensive part of my training with Mark Beecher, who’s my Thai boxing coach, and I also had the help of Vini Aieta, my Jiu-Jitsu teacher, closer to fight time. Vini was important in that he kept me calm when the fight went to the ground. After all, he’s coached me since I was 15. I have faith in his instructions.
Do you maintain contact with Chael Sonnen?
Yes, he gave me plenty of support throughout the entire week of the fight. He was concerned about my making weight, asked how my head was for the fight, and he totally encouraged me. We also spoke after the fight.
You watched the main event of the evening. What did you think Vitor Belfort needed to do to tap out Jon Jones?
Hard to say. It’s easy to point out mistakes from the sidelines, but only Vitor can say what was missing for him to finish. I myself, in my fight, made a technical mistake that cost me going another round. So I don’t feel I should judge or nitpick about what he might have done. Were I in his place, I’d probably have gone for the same type of spinning armbar I did in my fight, since it would break Jon Jones’s posture and I’d have more hip pressure. But like I said, it’s always a lot easier to have opinions when you’re on the outside.
What’s your goal in the UFC now?
To win more fights. That’s all I’m concerned about at the moment. My overall record isn’t the best, but at least I’ve got a good winning streak going. My UFC record’s still in the red [1w, 2l], so my primary goal is to change the numbers. I have another three fights on this contract. I hope to win them all; that way my UFC record will be 4w, 2l. After that I’ll look at loftier objectives. One fight I think would be interesting at the moment would be with Matt Hamill, since both of us are coming off wins, we’ve got similar records, plus our last fights were at the same UFC.