If you've got an Achilles' heel of triangle chokes, there might be no better trainer to enlist than a world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt fighter to help you out.
That's exactly what Chael Sonnen did in advance of his upcoming UFC 148 title fight, a rematch against UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, a fighter Sonnen had on the ropes for 23 minutes before getting triangled into submission in the fifth and final round.
Vinny Magalhaes' resume speaks for itself, having been a gold medalist in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in both gi and no-gi, the Pan Ams, and most recently defeating Fabricio Werdum to take gold in the 99+ kilogram division of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships in Nottingham, England.
The elite grappler spent two weeks working the ground game with Sonnen in advance of Saturday night's (July 7, 2012) fight against Silva and he was a guest on Bloody Elbow Radio earlier today where he had plenty of interesting things to say about Brazil's reaction to his work with Silva's biggest rival, Sonnen's focus and most important of all, how Sonnen has improved with his defense of that dreaded triangle choke in part one of this two-part interview.
Check it out:
Matt Bishop: It seems like you're getting a lot of grief from a lot of people for working with Chael for this fight because of the whole Brazil thing. What's that been like?
Vinny Magalhaes: You know, of course, I live in the USA and I've been working with American fighters since I moved here and I never had that problem before. I helped Dan Henderson fight against Anderson before for one day when they were fighting for the UFC title and there was no heat about that. I trained Sokoudjou against another Brazilian in Ricardo Arona and against Little Nog and there was no heat whatsoever.
This time, it's not just about me training an American fighter, it's more about me training Chael, a guy who does the whole trash talk about Brazilians and Brazil. It's a little rough for me but I don't like it when people judge me as a person for helping a guy. Chael has to sell a fight. Even though Anderson is a great fighter, as the numbers say, he's the best fighter in the world but Anderson by himself does not sell the fight. He won't. People won't just watch the fight because he's the best fighter in the world.
He could double those numbers if he would talk more. Anderson doesn't talk at all, he doesn't sell the fight and Chael did his job. Even though I know for a fact that that's just him trying to be an entertainer, him trying to sell the fight, people don't see it that way. Brazilians don't see it that way. They get offended with some of his comments, his stuff about the Nogueiras and Anderson Silva himself. I get it, but I don't like people judging me for some things that Chael says.
The worst is people calling me a traitor. How can I be a traitor? What can I be a traitor for? I was never friends with Anderson. Actually, it's totally the opposite. At one point, Anderson helped Rich Franklin to fight Wanderlei Silva and those guys were friends. If you're talking about somebody being a traitor, Anderson was the traitor when he trained Rich Franklin to fight one of his friends. What are you talking about calling me a traitor?
Matt Bishop: How did you end up getting hooked up with Chael Sonnen? How did that whole relationship develop?
Vinny Magalhaes: This was before their first fight with Anderson and Chael. I was at the UFC expo in 2009 and there were rumors that he was about to fight for the title and there was nothing confirmed yet and I told Chael, "Look, if you need training partners (because we used to be on the same team, I was part of Team Quest), if you need someone to train with, just let me know. I would love to make the trip to Oregon"
That was like three years ago and then he didn't use me for the first fight. We just talked to each other a couple times but he didn't me for his camp and I think after getting tapped in that first fight, I think he kind of realized he should work a little more on his ground game and I think this time, he actually invited me and I wanted to help him out so I did so.
Matt Bishop: I saw on your Twitter that you had a review workout with Chael yesterday. What was that like and how much time was between this review workout and the last time you worked with him?
Vinny Magalhaes: Well, I've been back to Vegas for about two weeks now. I didn't stay with Chael the whole camp, just the two weeks and the whole idea was just to review things and I was surprised, man, that dude is scrappy. There was not one thing I showed him that he wasn't happy with doing it. He was doing it perfect. I left that session stoked. I was super excited after training with him last night and I'll tell you one thing, If he fights like he's been training for this fight, I don't think Anderson stands a chance.
Just from like the first fight, it was 23 minutes of total domination and that is what Chael does and he didn't have the tools he has now. I can see the fight going the same way with the possibility of Chael finishing the fight before the 25 minutes end.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I saw also that you mentioned that Chael paid you for four weeks of training despite working with him for two weeks. You recently mentioned that you would have done it for free now that you got to know the guy a little better. What is it about getting to meet Chael Sonnen and getting to know Chael Sonnen that really stuck with you?
Vinny Magalhaes: Well I think I was doing a little exaggeration when I said I'd do it for free. I have a family to feed and I have a job. I cannot leave my job and work somewhere else and not be paid.... Here's the thing, I charged him what I charged him because I knew I was gonna get some heat for this. When I got at his house, I didn't stay at a hotel, I stayed at his house, the check was already there and signed and everything the very first day. When I saw the check, I was like, "That's more than I asked for," and he was really cool about it and had a little note on the check "To defeat Silva" so he's a pretty funny guy.
He's a really good guy and people should know the guy better before judging him through what they know in the media. Even his mom, Claudia Sonnen, she did an interview yesterday and she was saying people should not judge Chael by the character he plays. The guy goes to the high school and he teaches the kids for free. He does a lot of things for his family and people don't know the real Chael. They just know and judge him by the guy they saw on TV.
Matt Bishop: What percentage of the training was dedicated to offensive versus defensive Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
Vinny Magalhaes: We trained for both. A lot of people asked me when I announced that I was gonna train with Chael, "Hey, just have the guy train triangle defense." I can't just train triangle defense because for me to train triangle defense, that means he has to in the first place be in that situation. It's my job to make sure he's not even close to that situation. We trained more attacking it versus trying to defend it.
Of course, we did work on some defense and he asked me like, "Hey Vinny, I do have a hard time when I fight, sometimes I get caught in triangles, what can I do to escape," so yeah, I showed him a couple little moves I like to do but I didn't just focus on that. Chael has an actual top game and he's a wrestler. If there's not a flash knockdown, I can see Chael putting Anderson on his back again and once he's on his back, I told him to focus on making his top game better because that's where he likes to be.
I would say we worked much more on attacking than defending. We worked on three or four submissions and we worked on three or four ways to avoid being anywhere even close to getting caught in a submission but we mostly worked on attacking. Chael's gonna be the guy to push the pace, just like he did in the first fight. He'll be all in Anderson's face. He's not gonna be just trying to defend himself. He wants to win this fight, of course like all his fights, and he's really focused and will really stick to the gameplan.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Vinny Magalhaes tomorrow where we go into even more detail on what Sonnen's been working on in advance of his upcoming title fight.
Coming from an elite grappler like Magalhaes, does this give you more confidence in Sonnen heading into Saturday night's match-up?
What are your thoughts?