Vinny Magalhaes (5-5) will be featured in the main event of MMA Xplosion from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas tomorrow night (Jan. 29) when he meets the undefeated "Damien Knight" Robert Scott (3-0-1).
Magalhaes went 2-1 in his last three bouts before being a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 8. "Pezao" told MMAmania.com how he entered the show.
"Actually, I never got a call about it. I found out they were going to have my weight division as part of the show and I had my manager talk to Dana White to see if they could get me on the show, but I never went to tryouts or anything. I just went straight to the show."
Some cast members showed displeasure after living in the TUF house with different personalities, but you won't find Magalhaes complaining about it.
"At the time, I was single with no family whatsoever, so it was pretty easy for me and (it) was a good experience. All I was doing was training, sleeping, and eating, so it was quality time for me. As for the other guys, I got along with everybody, so I had no problems at all."
On TUF season 8, Magalhaes was part of Frank Mir's team. While "Pezao" says he didn't learn much from the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title-holder, he did bond with Mir.
"Honestly, it was more symbolic for me. The coaches don't really get to teach a lot to the fighters. It's more about the team challenges and that's it. Frank was never really teaching anything. He had his coaches do things, but he himself, he was never really teaching anything. To me, it was really more of a friendship. It didn't really have to do with him teaching me anything."
With a 2-2 record, casual fans may have ignored the potential that Magalhaes had. They immediately took notice when the Brazilian made it to the finale of TUF season 8. Magalhaes says he wasn't surprised with how far he went.
"I wouldn't say I surprised myself. At that time, I was really training a lot of jiu-jitsu. I knew that if I got the fight to the ground that I could submit my opponent. There aren't a lot of really high-level jiu-jitsu fighters in MMA and that was one thing about the show. I could take my opponents to the ground. The one I didn't take to the ground was the first fight, but that doesn't mean I was ready to be a UFC fighter at that time. I wasn't really focusing on just MMA. I was doing a little bit of everything. I was doing MMA, I was doing jiu-jitsu, and I was doing grappling. I wasn't really focused on just doing MMA. I wasn't really surprised I made it to the finals, but I guess it just wasn't my time quite yet."
Magalhaes came up short in his quest to become The Ultimate Fighter when he was knocked out by Ryan Bader in the finale. As you can imagine, "Pezao" was very disappointed.
"It might sound like an excuse, that was the only fight that I really felt like was a legitimate loss. I trained hard, and I was training my overall game. It was very frustrating. I got through the whole thing, finishing all three of my fights to get to the finals, which is supposed to be the biggest fight, and I lose, but that was my only legit loss. My first fight, I shouldn't have taken it at the time because I was only doing jiu-jitsu and my opponent had like five fights. I kept taking tough fights that I wasn't ready for. My last loss was when I took a fight with a knee injury. I did the fight so I could pay for the surgery to fix the knee. It is what it is. I would love to go back to the UFC someday and fight Bader again. No matter how good he is, I don't think he's improving his ground game, so I know if we fight again that I can take it to the ground and submit him. That's one thing that I'm always going to have in my mind. It's a fight that follows me, and I'd like to do it again. It was the most important fight for me up to that date, but it happens."
Magalhaes' next fight would be his last inside the Octagon. He knew he was going to be released after the loss, but he feels it was due to his record, not his performance against Eliot Marshall.
"I knew the UFC was going to release me because of my record. I definitely thought I won the second and third round of my fight with Eliot, and the crowd was booing the decision. Anyway, I don't think they cut me because of that fight itself, but because of my record, which was 2-4 at the time, I think. That's a really bad record to be in the UFC. I was upset because I felt like I cut because of my record and not the fight with Eliot. I've watched it over and over, and I don't know how they can say he won, but I knew they wouldn't keep me due to my record."
"Pezao" rebounded from the cut with submission wins over Chris Davis and former UFC fighter Mike Nickels, but he feels he improved as a fighter after his loss to Bader.
"It didn't really start from those fights. It actually started after the Bader fight. I just changed my whole game. I knew I had to become a true mixed martial artist, and from there, I've just trained my whole game. You could already see the difference in my approach in my fight with Marshall. I don't play around anymore. I don't try to be a striker if I'm not good at striking. Now, I just use my striking to get in close to get a takedown. If I don't get a takedown, I'm going to use other ways to get to the ground. Before, I was trying to set up the whole time. Those two wins were good for me, but the turnaround actually started before then."
After two big submission wins, Magalhaes suffered a small setback when he was defeated by Pedro Galiza de Oliveira in March 2010. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist feel he lost the fight before it even began.
"There wasn't really anything wrong with the fight itself. The wrong part was more in me taking the fight to begin with. I got hurt in February, and took the fight in March. I needed it to pay for my surgery, so I took the fight with a torn ACL and a torn meniscus. I went the rounds, but I couldn't pull the trigger. I couldn't get the takedown. I couldn't do much of anything. It didn't go my way with that first fight, but I'm glad I got the win in that second fight."
"Pezao" will meet "Damien Knight" tomorrow night (Jan. 29) in the main event of MMA Xplosion. Magalhaes realizes the holes in Scott's game, but he also respects his opponent's strengths.
"I've seen his last two fights. He doesn't have the greatest cardio, but that doesn't really matter that much when you can knock a guy out in thirty seconds. You don't need great cardio for that. He hasn't finished his fights yet, but he comes out very wild. I need to keep my hands up and try not to get hit. He was a state-wrestling champion, but that doesn't mean much to a guy like me with my ground game. I'm not really worried about his wrestling skills. It's his hands that I'm concerned with. Anything can happen, even when you're not the greatest striker. You can make a mistake and end up getting knocked out, but I have the advantage on the ground, I have a reach advantage, and I'm taller than him. I usually don't have cardio issues, so I feel good about this, but it's a fight, and I just have to not make mistakes."
Standup is a very crucial aspect of mixed martial arts (MMA) because every round starts off on the feet. Magalhaes knows this and believes he has made significant progress in his standup.
"Since about 2006, I was working some with Shawn Tompkins, but I didn't really put a lot into it until last year. I've started working with Mark Beecher, who's had a lot of success training MMA fighters in their standup, guys like Forrest Griffin. (It's) not that Shawn wasn't doing a good job, but while Shawn is more of a striking coach, Mark is more of an MMA coach. He knows how to mix up striking and grappling. I felt like I needed to make that change. I not only want to get better at striking, but I want my ground (game) to really work for me too. I feel like the last three months that I've been working with Mark that I've gotten 100% better."
The ultimate goal for "Pezao" is to make his return in the Octagon, but he recognizes that beating competitors with negative records won't get him back on the big stage.
"I've recently signed with M-1 and I have at least five more fights with them, but regardless, though Scott doesn't have a lot of experience, he's got a really good record. To get back to the UFC or a big promotion like that, I'm going to have to beat guys like him. Beating guys with negative records isn't really going to do much to help me. Getting wins over guys like Scott, who has a good record, that's going to help me, but that's not going to get me back to the UFC by itself, especially not with my record. It's going to take much more than that."
Magalhaes took the time to thank his manager, the promoter of MMA Xplosion and even MMAmania.
"I'd like to thank MMA Xplosion promoter Rani John for giving me a chance to fight on this card, and especially in the main event after Vitor Vianna got hurt. Of course, my manager Juan Sanchez...I appreciate him. My sponsors like Xyience, the Gun Store, Faction Mouth guards, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and L.A. Boxing. Without sponsors like them, it'd be hard to train hard for my fights. And of course, I'd like to thank you guys for this interview."