Vinny Magalhaes takes on Keenan Cornelius tonight at Metamoris 3. Both men are very accomplished grapplers, but at different points in their career. Magalhaes, a black belt from both Royler Gracie and Eddie Bravo, has focused more on his MMA career as of late. Cornelius, who is just 22, is blossoming into one of the best BJJ practitioners in the world.
I recently spoke to Vinny regarding his upcoming match in Metamoris, his life as a BJJ practitioner, who he believes will win in the main event rematch, and much more. This is the first part of a three piece series with Magalhaes.
How are you feeling going into Metamoris 3?
To be honest with you it’s just a grappling match. There is no where near the pressure that I have when I am fighting, so it’s just another day to me. I am actually in the middle of a training camp, so I am just taking this as my Saturday workout. Usually on Saturday I only work out about half of the day instead of three workouts. Not taking anything away from the match; Of course I want to go there and win, but there is no pressure.
BJJ is not what I do for a living anymore. To be honest with you, I don’t think anybody can do jiu-jitsu for a living anymore as far as competition only. There is no pressure, so I feel pretty good.
His thoughts on Keenan Cornelius
I think when Keenan started training jiu-jitsu he was 14 or something like that. I was already a two year black belt at that time. He has a lot of hype behind him though. He did really well as a brown belt, winning his weight division and Absolutes at the Worlds. I did exactly that 9 years ago.
Whatever he has done as a brown belt, I did the same 9 years ago. I know he has a lot of hype and he is up and coming. He is good, he is a champion, so you can’t take anything away from the guy.
I just don’t feel like there is anything in the jiu-jitsu world that I have not seen yet. I have been against some of the best guys in the world. I have been against Drysdale, Buchecha, Werdum, Cyborg, and more. I have gone against the best of the best guys. In fact, all of the guys I just named I beat them. There is no reason for me to be worried about what Keenan does.
I have seen him compete before at ADCC last year. He was pretty impressive. He was 21 years old at ADCC for his first time and placed third in both of his divisions and in the Absolute weight class. You have to respect that. He is a great grappler, but his game is not as aggressive as mine. He goes for submissions, but he is not as aggressive as I am going for submission after submission. I feel like that will give me the advantage.
Do you think Keenan, or other up and coming BJJ artists, can be successful in MMA?
The whole thing about moving to MMA when you are only good at one discipline, it just does not work. People can tell that in a bunch of my fights I went in there unprepared and just counted on my jiu-jitsu and I ended up getting knocked out or never taking the fight to the ground and losing a decision. It is a different game. Keenan has great jiu-jitsu, but how good is his jiu-jitsu for MMA? I don’t think anyone is going to 50/50 in MMA.
If he moves over it would have to be at the lowest level of MMA, because at the highest level no one will be getting caught in those things. Jiu-jitsu for MMA is very different, but we will never know unless he starts competing in MMA.
Making a living on Jiu-jitsu
As far as making a living, you can make a living in jiu-jitsu, but not in competition. You make a living by teaching classes and seminars. You make some change here and there when you do a competition like Metamoris, but these competitions happen like once or twice a year, you can’t live off that. You can not compare living off fighting and living off jiu-jitsu.
Royler Gracie vs Eddie Bravo
Royler was the guy who gave me my black belt in jiu-jitsu when I won the Worlds in 2005. He gave me my black belt on the podium. I have been a Gracie black belt for 9 years now and training at the Gracie academy since I was 14 years old. You would probably assume I would pick Royler, but here is the thing; Two years ago I also got my black belt under Eddie Bravo at 10th planet jiu-jitsu.
That actually won’t have anything to do with my pick though. My pick will still be Eddie just because I know how both guys work. I know how they have been training for the last few years. Royler, once he retired from competition, became a businessman. He would do seminars, and attempt to expand his team. He has a fleet of schools and focuses on his system. His focus wasn’t on training like Eddie’s was.
I have been to Eddie’s gym a few times and he is always training. He would train with the newer guys, the best guys, it doesn’t matter he is always training. If there was three classes a day, Eddie would be at all three classes. I just feel like he is not the same Eddie Bravo from 10 years ago. I think he is a much better grappler now. I am sure Royler is also a better grappler than he was 10 years ago, but it is much easier for Eddie because he has been training consistently for the last 10 years.
If somebody wins, I think Eddie gets the win. I will go with a draw though. I don’t see Royler tapping him out either.
Do yo think most of the bouts will end in draws?
Yea, for sure. People get excited when they hear ‘Submission Only’, because they think submissions will happen, but not really. People will be trying, but it is so hard when you reach that level for people to be getting tapped out. Of course, people make mistakes, and other guys are able to capitalize on mistakes, but it’s so hard. Especially when you don’t have to worry about points.
They can literally just play defense. Last year, you could consider Cyborg the best grappler in the world. He won ADCC Absolute division and he couldn’t beat Brendan Schaub, who is a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. He is nowhere near his level, but in those rules it is so easy to stall and avoid submissions. I bet half of these matches will end up in draws.