EXCLUSIVE (Part 2) | Vinny Magalhaes Talks TUF From Eyes of Coach and Former Contestant | Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio
Vinny Magalhaes spoke with BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio Sunday night as he winds down his camp leading up to his UFC 159 fight against 8th ranked light heavyweight contender, Phil Davis (10-1). Magalhaes, who has only fought once in the UFC during the past four years, is known to many UFC fans for his two stints on The Ultimate Fighter. Back in 2008, he was a contestant in the 8th season of the show, losing in the finals to Ryan Bader. More recently, he was the jiu jitsu coach for Team Sonnen in the show’s 17th season. In his interview, Magalhaes (10-5) talked about the difference between being a fighter and a coach on the show.
“I saw guys like Dylan [Andrews],” explained Magalhaes, “he’s like 32 or 33, and Uriah [Hall] is like my age, and I was just thinking, man, I could never do that again at this point in my life. There’s no way! Especially now with a family. When I was in The Ultimate Fighter, I was 23, no kids, single; so it was, you know, it was a cool experience. I lived there, free food, I was getting paid, you know, paid to fight. I was getting paid at the time outside of the house. So it was an awesome experience back then when I was 23. At this point, there’s no way I would go through that again, there’s no way! You know, six weeks locked in with a bunch of dudes, you don’t know what guys are going to do, you know maybe get another guy like Junie Browning who was hell to be around. I could not do that again. Being an assistant coach was perfect; I didn’t have to be locked in the house, I didn’t have to live with 15 other guys, it was great.”
As a coach, Vinny helped two of his team’s fighters reach the finals. Both Kelvin Gastelum and Uriah Hall represented Team Sonnen at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale last weekend. The result, a split-decision victory for Gastelum, surprised many fans; but Magalhaes was only surprised that the decision was not unanimous.
“I was not expecting a split decision,” he said. “I had, in my opinion, that fight could have had Kelvin winning all [three] rounds. Uriah is a super-talented striker, very accurate. Everything he throws, he throws it with accuracy and power, but I don’t think he’s as good a wrestler or grappler at all as Kelvin [Gastelum]. I felt that, being really good at those two things, he’s a horrible match-up for Uriah. Just being around both guys, and seeing how both guys performed on the show, I was like, you know, a lot of people are going to be counting Kelvin out, but he’s going to win this thing. I told him that the day before, the day before the fight I told him, ‘Look, Kelvin, that’s your fight, dude.’ Style-wise that’s the perfect fight for him.”
Vinny went on to describe Uriah Hall, who was the crowd favorite entering the finals due to some spectacular knockouts during the show, as a fighter who remained one-dimensional.
“Uriah,” explained Magalhaes, “he’s an excellent striker, but he’s still developing his wrestling game, developing his grappling game. It was just a bad fight. I think Uriah is going to do great in the UFC; that was just not the fight for him. If the same Uriah you have today, and the same Kelvin you have today, and they fought ten times, it would probably ten times end the same way. Uriah would have to change so much his wrestling game, and would have to change so much his jiu jitsu game for him to win that fight. I think it was Luke who said something about going and training at Renzo Gracie’s academy, where they have really good grapplers and pretty good wrestlers too, and then Uriah said, ‘Why would I go there? They don’t know how to strike.’ So it’s almost like he’s a little close-minded for to learn jiu jitsu. He thinks he can just decide the fight with striking, and I think he paid the price… I think it was the way he approach[ed] the fight… to be honest with you, Uriah is likely the most talented striker from that season, but overall he’s not a better fighter, but he had the better coaches. I guarantee you, if Uriah had been training with [Jon] Jones, he would not have been in the final, because he had Chael with him and Chael would boost his confidence before fights. All the pre-fights for Uriah went perfect. Sometimes [Sonnen] would notice [Hall] would be thinking too much, doubting himself or nervous because he had a fight coming up, and Chael would make go there and make him relax… but talking about the finals, he didn’t have Chael anymore. Maybe he had his coaches doing the same thing, but Chael was just too smart. When he gives his speech, he makes you believe what he’s saying… He didn’t have that for the last three months for to fight Kelvin. I think not having that guy with him might have mattered too. He was probably super nervous when he saw the size of the Octagon, when he saw the amount of people there to watch him fight, probably he just broke down mentally. Who knows? I haven’t talked with him since, but probably that’s what happened.”
Magalhaes went on to describe working as an assistant coach to Sonnen, a man he said “was pretty cool.” Perhaps most surprisingly, Vinny talked about how Chael- the king of trash talking- actually “told some of the guys, ‘Look, camera time you’re gonna get as long as you perform, so don’t try to be the funny guy, don’t do stupid things.’”
When asked about working with both Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones, who potentially could be opponents for Vinny in the future, he responded that those thoughts didn’t preoccupy his mind during the show.
“To be honest with you, I never thought about it that way. Being around Jones was funny though, the first few days he came up to me and said, ‘Hey Vinny, why you saying I don’t have good jiu jitsu? You don’t think I have jiu jitsu?’ And I was like, ‘To be honest with you, I don’t think you do.’ He was a little surprised, like, ‘Are you really saying this?’ but we started to get along, and that just became a joke. But I never really thought I would be fighting this guy- yes I thought that, but being around him, it was never about [spying] on this guy and see what he does because eventually I’m going to be fighting him. Same with Chael, training with Chael, I never thought about fighting him. I think me and Chael, we are perfect training partners for each other; I can help him with the ground game, he can help me with wrestling. I never thought about me and Chael as opponents ever, but Jones of course. I thought about it, especially with him having the title… it was interesting though, you know, seeing the guy. I used to be like any other fan, I used to think that Jones was huge and like this big dude, but when I [saw] him actually, I’m like pretty much his height, and I’m like way bigger than him size-wise, I was like 245 [lbs] when I was doing the show, and Jones was out of shape at 220 [lbs]. I was like, ‘Dude, why does everything think he’s a giant?’ He’s a small frame, and he’s not as big as people think he is. Then I start to compare, because I’m thinking maybe I’m going to fight this guy some day, and maybe I’m going to have some advantage. Those were what I was thinking, but I didn’t really have in my head [that] I’m going to be fighting this guy any time soon. It wasn’t anything like that.”
Before he will get an opportunity to fight either Jones or Sonnen, Vinny Magalhaes must first take on “Mr. Wonderful,” Phil Davis this Saturday. Be sure to check out the first half of this interview where Vinny talks about his opponent and their upcoming match at UFC 159. You can hear the full interview here.