UFC 152 is just a day away, and finally, we'll all get our fix of top shelf MMA. Two titles are on the line and several other interesting matches fill out a solid card. After a month long dry spell, I think everyone is ready for this card. On my list of most anticipated bouts, is the one featuring Vinny Magalhaes vs Igor Pokrajac. After a three and a half year layoff, and a very public dispute with the M-1 promotion, we finally get to see the BJJ ace back in action inside the octagon.
Since his initial departure from the UFC, Magalhaes has gone 7-1, and is currently on a five fight win streak. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Vinny discussed his upcoming fight, and how he plans to use what comes naturally to him, his jiu jitsu, but also stated he may have another trick or two up his sleeve that fans may not be expecting. Here's what he had to say:
I want people to believe that all I do is jiu jitsu. In my first fight in the UFC, I was trying to do the kickboxing and be the muay thai guy, when I didn't even know how to punch. This time, I feel like I know how to punch, and I know how to kick. I prefer to stick with what I'm good at, which is jiu jitsu, but I have other tools now.
If you're a striker, why go to the ground and get submitted? If you're a jiu jitsu guy, why try to keep the fight standing and end up getting knocked out? Of course, if I have the chance to knock somebody out, I'll take advantage of it, but it's not something I'm going to be going after. Just because an opportunity opens up to land a good punch, it doesn't mean it's always going to be a knockout punch. I've been hit pretty hard in a few fights, and not been dropped, but then you go back to my fight with Ryan Bader, and it wasn't even that hard of a punch, but it knocked me out. It gave me a headache for like two weeks [laughs]. The point is, not every punch is a knockout punch, and a lot of times when you throw, you're going to rely a little bit on luck for a knockout.
With grappling, it doesn't really have much to do with luck. It's all about skill. Why would I play a lottery game on my feet, when I can just take the fight to the ground and finish there. I know I'm capable of it. There's not going to be any luck needed there. I'm not going to be playing games. If I catch him with a punch, fine, but if it doesn't happen, I want to take it to the ground and finish him there.
More after the jump
When the conversation turned to his opponent, Vinny made no bones about getting his opinion across:
Let's be honest. Igor has 30 or 40 fights, but what's his background, really? He's never competed in wrestling before, so there's no background in wrestling. How many muay thai or kickboxing matches does he have? None., so there's no background there. His whole experience is through MMA. I'm just as much a wrestler or striker as he is. Of course he has more fights than I do, but he doesn't have a background in anything.
I'm not going to be worrying about what he's supposed to be good at. People call him a striker because he has a few knockouts. His most impressive one is over Krzysztof Soszynski, and I don't want to take anything away from that, but Krzys was coming off an injury. If you look at his fights before the UFC, he was fighting guys that were like 0-7 or 1-10. Those are the kind of guys he was knocking out. If you're knocking out guys with losing records, it's not super impressive. He's not beating world champions. Given that most people call him this striker/wrestler, I'm just not super impressed with his striking or his wrestling.
Vinny seems to have the right frame of mind for making his ascension in the light heavyweight division. He's not thinking of immediately carrying PPV cards or title shots. He's willing to take it a step at a time, and earn his place in the ranks:
I'm in no rush. It's pointless for me to fight a Top 10 guy right now, because my record would still be 1-2 in the UFC. What I really want to do is get my record in the UFC into positive numbers. Just put whoever they want in front of me. I don't care. I know my place. I know where I should be fighting, and right now, that's from the middle to the bottom of the division. After I get some wins under my belt, why not? Give me some Top 10 guys.
Of course, we couldn't finish the interview without asking about Big Nog, so for this portion, I am actually including the audio on it. It's only 4 minutes long, and I thought our readers might like to hear this come straight from the horse's mouth.
You can follow Vinny via his Twitter account, @VinnyMMA