Vinicus Magalhaes Interview

VINICUS MAGALHAES profile:189cm95kgJuly, 02 – 1984Rio de JaneiroDM: When and why did you start in Jiu Jitsu?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I started in 1998, because two of my friends trained in a dojo at my building. One of them was from a Jiu Jitsu academy close to my building and he taught Jiu Jitsu in this dojo at my building, he was a purple-belt. I went just to watch the trainings and I loved the way of it. The levers and the positions attracted me a lot. It seemed that I was training too because I always asked something of the instructor, so one month later I started training. I trained 20 days and I competed and won a tournament. I won my six first competitions. I associate my will-power at the beginning of Jiu Jitsu due to my first 6 medals in first 6 events.

DM: Did you train other Martial Art?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: No, just Jiu Jitsu.

DM: You said you started Jiu Jitsu because you had two friends who practiced. But did you already show any interest in fights?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I don’t think so. I didn’t know what Jiu Jitsu was, I went to watch and I loved it. When I had my first contact with Jiu Jitsu I liked it a lot. I first understood a lot and then I went to practice.

DM: You understood first, but when you went to training, did you adapt yourself without any problem?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I liked it. My first competition I won, so I adapted myself well. You see, I won a tournament in white-belt with just 20 days. With 6 titles in six competitions I told myself, I’m good on it, you know?(laughs)

DM: Did your academy consider you a phenom due to your performances in the first 6 competitions?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I was just 14 years old, but no one told me I was a phenom. A guy from another team motivated me; Ismael Souza (IVC 12 champion) told me that I was very good and I should keep training hard and that I’d have a good future. I beat two of his students, I was white-belt and they were yellow belts who had trained at 2 years. So I thought if their master (Souza) told me that I’m good, then I’m really good, you know. My first loss occurred at Copa PitBull where I lost the final match in my seventh championship.

DM: And your parents, did they support you at beginning?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: My mother never had a close contact with Jiu Jitsu. I don’t like it when she goes to the competition. She watches me on tapes. But she supported me a lot when she paid my gi and my competition’s inscriptions. But I never had my mother at the tournaments screaming my name, because I think she thinks Jiu Jitsu is violent (laughs).

DM: Do you’ve brothers who train Jiu Jitsu too?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I’ve two brothers one is older and another one who trained Jiu Jitsu but stopped after two years of training.

DM: Which team do your friends who introduced you to Jiu Jitsu represent?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: They trained under Team Strauss. I don’t know how they’re now, the team and my friend, because I moved-off to another apartment.

DM: You started at academy close to your home and then you moved to a mat inside your building. Did you feel the difference on the two trainings?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: When I completed one year of Jiu Jitsu, I alreadysubmitted purple-belts who had 6 years of Jiu Jitsu. So I thought that I may change academy, because I want to compete in outstanding events; and the academy inside my building isn’t affiliated to CBJJ.

DM: The guys in your academy got mad due to your good trainings against them?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I mean, you were a novice who submitted everybody and then what do you have to say about it? Well, I didn’t have this kind of problem. All guys into the academy liked my style and they thought it was nice to have a guy (myself) who was growing up quick. When I moved to another academy not one of them considered me a traitor, they supported me.

DM: You told you wanted to move for a most competitive team. So why did you choose Gracie Humaita/Tijuca?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I decided it because I watched Saulo Ribeiro in State of Rio de Janeiro Championship ’98 and he won his weight class and the absolute. So I bought a Magazine which covered this event and there was an article about Royler Gracie too and I looked to see where Saulo teaches Jiu Jitsu and I discovered it was in Tijuca. My sponsor’s owner Ze Luis(Senkei Kimonos) trained with Vinny at Tijuca. So he invited me to train in Gracie Tijuca, to see if I’d like the academy’s atmosphere. I arrived there when Saulo was teaching, and everybody said that during the Saulo’s Jiu Jitsu classes just high level fighters where on the mat and the trainings were very hard. So I waited a little more and trained in Vinny’s classes, which was less hard. So when I started I loved Vinny’s classes, because I learned things that in 2 years of Jiu Jitsu I had never learned. So I thought that if I won 5 tournaments without knowing many things, now I can have a great success because I’ve a extraordinary support of Vinny.

DM: Was your beginning in Gracie Tijuca hard?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Funny. I was already a blue-belt when I started in Gracie Tijuca and an orange-belt submitted me. It was the opposite of my training in the past when I submitted most graduated fighters than me. I didn`t think it was bad, because I’d improve here a lot.

DM: Didn’t you get mad with this situation?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: For sure a little mad, because I don’t like to lose. But I was satisfied because I know my technique would improve due to my training. So within three months in Gracie Tijuca I won my first State of Rio de Janeiro Championship.

DM: How did Gracie Tijuca receive you?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Very well. They’re my family, if you went to trainthere, they`d receive you very well.

DM: Do you always want to be a competitor?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I think that the fact of fighting for a championship with just 20 days of trainings made the difference. I won and it inspired me to keep myself training more and wanting to compete more. If I didn’t win the first one, I don’t think I’d like to be a competitor (laughs).

DM: Even when you were 14 years old, did you realize you’d be a good Jiu Jitsu fighter?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Man, I think that the sequence of my tournament victories made me believe that I could invest in my Jiu Jitsu career. Like I said, I won 6 titles on the road in my beginning in Jiu Jitsu.

DM: The six tournaments mentioned by you were in white and yellow. What can you tell us about orange, blue, purple and brown belts?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I was always improving in my other belts, I lost some matches for sure, but I won more than I lost. I had luck and competence to keep a high and good pace. I won my first pan-Arms and Mundial in blue-belt. But I think that I improved a lot in purple-belt, because I started submitting my opponent in more fights. I stayed just 10 months at brown belt, where I won Pan Arm and Mundial. I think my edge was in brown-belt because in 10 months I got to make what I didn’t in other belts.

DM: Did you get more recognition on your career in brown-belt?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: No doubt. The Pan Arm of this year gave me the confidence and recognition that I had. Because I was in USA teaching Jiu Jitsu and I didn’t have much training there, I taught Jiu Jitsu in USA for white and blue belts. So I resolved to fight Pan Arm without any good training, and I captured gold-medal at my weight class and lost the final. So I thought that if without good trainings I got to win Pan Arm, if I come back to Brazil to train with the best teammates and instructors, I’d conquer the Mundial. I didn’t expect to win Pan Arm, but I was sure I’d perform well in Mundial 2005.

DM: You’re a fan of Saulo Ribeiro, Vinny and Royler Gracie. So your game is based on their games?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Well, I don’t have problem of fighting on the feet or on the bottom. I get more submissions fighting from the bottom, and on the top I get more points. I improved a lot and I feel comfortable in any situation that a fight can show. And I’m developing well on the feet, based on the throws. Because sometimes we don’t get to put the fight on the feet, and the takedown is the best way of getting it.

DM: Even so, where do you prefer to fight, bottom or top?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Well, when I’m on the bottom I always look for the submission because I’ve in my mind that if I’m on the bottom, I’m at a disadvantage. While on the top I think we’ve more opportunities to get advantages, the rules help who’s on the top. A good example of this is during my final fight in Mundial 2005, I pulled the opponent to the guard and I looked for a quick submission, because I put in my mind I was losing the match since I was on the bottom and that was my most important fight, so I didn’t want to lose.

DM: Today I discover your nickname is Pezao (BigFoot). What’s the number of your shoes?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: It’s 45 in Brazil, that`s not big, but my foot is verywide.(laughs)

DM: Do you like or not of this nickname?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: It doesn’t bother me. Just once when I fought against a guy who had the same nickname Pezao. Someone in his corner was screaming instructions to him and I didn’t look to the person; I just followed the instructions of my opponent’s corner. It was funny because I got mad since any of the instructions that I heard didn’t work. Of course they were to my opponent. I couldn’t believe it! (laughs)

DM: Which are you main titles?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Pan Arm and Mundial of 2002, six times State of Rio de Janeiro Championship champion, Brasileiro 2005 and my conquests in Mundial and Pan Arm this year.

DM: How do you qualify your performance this year at Mundial 2005?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I didn’t have any problems in my weight class where I fought four times and I submitted everyone. I had good stamina. The two fighters that could give me trouble would be Tiago Gaya and Rodrigo Cavaca. But I submitted Gaya in less than 3 minutes and Cavaca I sunk a toe-hold to submit him. In absolute I fought 6 times and I submitted 2 fighters and won the others bypoints. The toughest fight was against Romulo Barral, who started very dangerous by 5-2 at advantages. He did everything to beat me. But when we had three minutes to go on the clock, I started to try to pass his guard. I got an advantage and I felt he got tired when he tried to lift me. So I passed his guard and I mounted, scoring 7-0. I could submit him, he was exhausted, but I respected him a lot and I also didn’t want to risk a position and he submits me.

DM: Which was your age when you fought first time between the adults?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I was in the age of 17 years old.

DM: What can you tell us about this experience?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I won my both events (Mundial and Pan Arm). So I thought that my age wasn’t a problem. I felt a little the difference of strength, but not too much.

DM: How did you manage the difference of strength?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I just started of making strength too. I worked more in my conditioning and I surpassed this small problem of strength difference.

DM: I realized also that you left ear is more cauliflowered than the right ear. Why?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I don’t have that stigma of pass the guard better to one side than other side. I trained with Cristiano Marcelo and he sunk a lapel’schoke, but it was in my neck and my ear, so my ear burst. Later I went to USA and I trained MMA with Nick Diaz, he punched my ear and it burst once again.

DM: When did you go to USA and why did you go there?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: It was in September of 2004 through April of 2005. My girlfriend lives in USA and she always wanted me to go there. So she asked me to go there to see her and to train in Cesar Gracie Academy, because he needs someone to teach Jiu Jitsu. I stayed there for 8 months and I didn’t talk much English, but I taught Jiu Jitsu in all periods at Academy. Maybe in September I’ll comeback.

DM: Was this your first experience teaching?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: It was. I didn’t have problems, just with the language, but by the 5th month I already taught without troubles. And I realized that the things really work. Some details that I thought wouldn`t work when I’d taught, worked perfectly.

DM: Who did you train with in the USA?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Besides Diaz, I trained Gilbert Melendez for hisfights in SHOOTO, Jake Shields, Dave Terrel, Gil Castilho and others.

DM: What did you absorb from this experience in USA?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: It opened my mind to MMA. I thought of only in Jiu Jitsu and after spend my time in USA I started on thinking in fighting MMA.

DM: So you want to fight MMA. But do you know when it can happen?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I thought that I’d fight MMA when I become a black-belt. But I already changed my mind, took MMA off of my road – for while – and now I want to have good performances in Jiu Jitsu as a black-belt.

DM: In Mundial 2005 and Pan Arm 2005 you faced Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra-BH). You already fought against him 4 times. We believe you two and Tarsis Humprey (Alliance) will make epic battles in the coming years. Do you know Humphrey and how do you see your battles against Barral?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I almost fought Humphrey in the Mundial 2000, we were juvenile fighters. Against Barral, we have a history already. I beat him in Pan of 2002 in quarter-finals by 5-0, and then after Pan, people wanted to see usfighting again. So I did a single match against him in his land, Minas Gerais, where I kept myself on the bottom trying to pass his guard during whole time, but the referee was from his academy and gave him the victory. He beat me in absolute of 2005 and I beat him this year in semifinals. I guess people think it’s2-2 between us, but I consider 2 _ for me and 1 _ for him, because I really beat him in Minas Gerais(laughs)

DM: And of future fights involving you three?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I see this generation, who stayed in the podium since 2002 like Barral, Humphrey, Cavaca and I. Battles involving us, just depend of our performances. But I know Barral is one of the best and he proved it.

DM: You got you black-belt on the podium, how did you feel about it?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I was happy and surprised because I had just 10 months of brown-belt. During my fights at brown-belt Vinny and Royler made a bet that if I won by submission in the final, I’d be graduated black-belt. I didn’t know about this bet…

DM: To win a black-belt is a dream of any fighter. But when you win a black-belt on the podium you’ve more people watching it. So, do you’ve to prove more now?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Train more and more. Because who won the absolute and weight class in brown belt in last years where Roger Gracie, Ronaldo Jacare and Andre Galvao and nowadays they’re top in black-belt. So I want to follow their steps with my competence.

DM: Did you think your black-belt was premature?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Maybe it wasn’t in the time that I expected, butI deserved it for sure .

DM: Who’s your idol?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Xande Ribeiro, who now is the teammate who fights in same category; Saulo; Vinny, who’s not a competitor but each time we train each time he teaches me more; Royler Gracie, who’s the story of JiuJitsu and Roger Gracie, who’s my opponent now and Jacare who has a great heart.

DM: You always mention Vinny’s name. What can you tell us about him?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: He’s my Jiu Jitsu. He elaborated what I am now. Until purple-belt I was a guy who didn’t hear much, because I didn’t accept peoplesaying what I should do. So when I opened my mind I realized that Vinny had changed my Jiu Jitsu and he made me a champion.

DM: Why doesn`t Vinny’s name appear much?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I don’t know. We’ve had a lot of champions in Gracie Tijuca, but the media always puts Gracie Humaita which is associated to Royler’s name.

DM: So which team do you train, Tijuca or Humaita?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I train under Gracie Tijuca and I represent Gracie Humaita. The master is Vinny and the boss is Royler (laughs). Both of them made me champion this year.

DM: Would you like to fight Copa do Mundo?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Yes I’d like to. But I don’t have sponsors topay for my travel. So I prefer to make my priority to fight just in Mundial. Also, I thought that those who fought in Copa do Mundo didn’t arrive in Mundials with 100% of physical condition.

DM: So did you feel that Cavaca and Barral weren’t very well conditioned?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I didn’t feel the usual pressure of Cavaca. Barral was okay, but got tired in the final of our fight.

DM: Cavaca almost beat you in Brasileiro. Did you expect the same game from him?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: Yes I did, but the most important thing of this Mundial was to erase my performance at the Brasileiro. I won nearly all my fights by advantage and I got a reputation of being a fighter who likes to stall the fight.

DM: Now, that you’re black-belt, which are your plans?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I’ll not just fight Mundial, but I’ll fight all kind of events. I want to fight Pan Arm, Brasileiro and State of Rio de Janeiro Championship and for sure I want to prepare myself during 3 months for the Mundial 2006. I told you before, all guys who were good in brown belt, got to be good in black-belt too. So I don’t want to arrive in Mundial 2006 unprepared and lose quick, if it didn’t happen to them I don’t wanna that it happens to me.(laughs)

DM: You told me you’re going to USA in September. Are you going to teach and train, or you will do more things?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I dedicated myself to the conditioning, because the Jiu Jitsu training isn’t with black-belts. I want to arrive in Pan Arm 2006 very well conditioned.

DM: Would you like to face someone?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I think that I’ll face Roger Gracie soon, so I’ll train a lot to beat him or make a fight in the same level.

DM: Last words?

VINICUS MAGALHAES: I’d like to thank Vinny, who constructed my Jiu Jitsu, Ze Luis from Senki Kimonos, who has sponsored me since I was 16 years old. Royler who always supported me and to the people who gave me the opportunity of this interview. I expect to be Mundial champion in black-belt, and I know that I’ll have to train so much.

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Denis Martins