Few fighters have been more dominant in mixed martial arts this year than Vinny Magalhaes.
The Brazilian BJJ specialist has been on a tear. His rise has been quiet, but Magalhaes has won four fights in the first round in the last six months, making him one of the best light heavyweights on the planet. He will get his shot to earn the PFL belt and $1 million on New Year’s Eve when he squares off with Sean O’Connell at Madison Square Garden.
Vinny Magalhaes has been a force since his entrance into the PFL. In fact, he has been as close to perfect as it gets. The Brazilian has dominated all four of his fights with the promotion, finishing each of them within two minutes of the first round. These quick finishes, three submissions, and a knockout have all come as a direct result of his brilliant grappling. Magalhaes is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners out there, and that is not exclusive to MMA. He is a former no-gi world champion and Abu Dhabi Champion. With a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Magalhaes is as well-rounded on the ground as it gets and has racked up 14 submission wins in MMA.
To start his streak of quick finishes as a PFL member, Magalhaes won his first regular-season bout over Jamie Abdallah. He made quick work of the kickboxer, baiting him into the clinch and securing overhooks. The takedown came soon after and Magalhaes was on his back in the blink of an eye to secure the finish. After this brilliant start, he went on to secure the top seed in the tournament by knocking out Brandon Halsey. Magalhaes landed a head kick then finished things off with vicious ground and pound for another first-round victory. Even in this finish, the Brazilian showed his superior grappling. When Halsey hit the deck, Magalhaes immediately went for the back and sunk a hook in, making it impossible for his opponent to turn and leading to the stoppage.
Vinny Magalhaes was the top seed in the eight-man PFL Light Heavyweight Tournament and he fought like the favorite. His quarterfinal fight came against Rakim Cleveland. The efficiency of Magalhaes continued in this fight. Once again, he got his opponent to sink in close and managed to secure overhooks against the cage in a nearly identical fashion to his fight with Abdallah. Like in that fight, the overhooks were the beginning of the end. Just over a minute into the fight, Magalhaes turned away from the cage and jumped guard, immediately transitioning into a triangle. As Cleveland was forced to defend a tightening triangle, Magalhaes turned his attention to the arm, locking up a kimura and forcing his opponent to tap in seconds.
Going into his second fight of the night, Vinny Magalhaes barely had a scratch on him. With his full gas tank, he was able to wipe out Bozigit Ataev in just under two minutes with another kimura. This submission would be secured in a very similar way. Again, the Brazilian jumped guard with his opponent against the cage. He went for the triangle for a split second but transitioned to high guard when the submission was not there. Ataev did better than most, landing a few shots from the top and briefly getting to his feet but was ultimately dragged back down to his back. From there on out, it was essentially a jiu-jitsu match and we all know how that ends. Vinny Magalhaes secured the kimura and booked his ticket to the PFL Finals.
This Monday night, if Vinny Magalhaes can pull off another brilliant win, he will come out the other side a million dollars richer. As a fighter in the PFL, the BJJ ace has never gone over two minutes, fighting mostly strikers. That will continue when he takes on Sean O’Connell a fellow UFC veteran who is known more for his striking than submission game. A former college football player turned fighter, O’Connell simply does not have the skill to fend off Magalhaes if this fight hits the ground.
If Vinny Magalhaes can find those magical overhooks against the fence yet again, we may see him walk out of New York as a millionaire.
Nick graduated with an environmental science degree and is a freelance writer, covering anything from fighting to forestry. He is a washed up swimmer and a sports and comedy enthusiast. Nick can be contacted through his linked social media.