At the top of the preliminary portion of UFC 163 in Brazil is a matchup between two seasoned jiu-jitsu specialists, Anthony Perosh from Australia and Vinny Magalhaes from Brazil. Both fighters are looking to come back from a loss at this point in their UFC career. Perosh lost via KO to rising Canadian star Ryan Jimmo, and Magalhaes lost to Phil Davis via unanimous decision in a bout where he seemed outmatched. Both fighters would love to get back into the winner’s circle; however, I am not exactly sure that it will make for a heated competition between the two as one might think. Let’s cover Magalhaes first.
Magalhaes is one of the highest caliber jiu-jitsu black belts that has ever competed for the UFC. The trophy case at his house must be gigantic. He has seven significant titles and medals to his credit in jiu-jitsu competition alone. The crowning moment of his grappling career is no doubt when he won the ADCC gold medal in the 99kg+ division. To add to this significant achievement, his final victory was over current UFC heavyweight top contender Fabricio Werdum. Werdum is known for having the best jiu-jitsu in the heavyweight division, having just recently submitted Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in a UFC bout. A victory over Werdum in any capacity is something to brag about, however a victory over a much larger and more experienced opponent in Werdum makes Magalhaes’ gold medal that much more impressive. Needless to say, in MMA competition Magalhaes’ jiu-jitsu skills translate very well. He is excellent off of his back, and he is great at catching submissions during scrambles. He is truly dangerous at any point in time on the ground during a grappling exchange. In his last UFC fight he showed improved striking against Davis. However, it was Davis’ reach advantage and jab that dictated the distance and pace of the entire fight. Magalhaes looked lost in the cage, and clearly was visibly flustered when his gameplan did not work. We may see this improved striking arsenal be successful on Saturday, but only because Perosh’s striking is surely nothing to write home about.
This brings me to “The Hippo”. To start things off, Perosh has the absolute worst nickname in the UFC currently. In his most recent fight, he was KO’d by Jimmo seven seconds into the first round. He was, however, on a three fight win streak before this bout. Although Perosh’s striking isn’t great, he is not afraid to stand and trade with the best of them. He even once took a fight against Mirko “CroCop” on merely two days’ notice. He lost that bout via TKO due to a cut, but showed his fortitude by giving it his best against a larger and more dangerous opponent. This was actually how he wound up receiving his current four-fight UFC contract. Perosh is also a jiu-jitsu black belt, having competed in the ADCC tournaments multiple times. Two of his three UFC wins have come by rear naked choke. His fight on this card will be the last one on his current contract, and so his job is on the line if he has a dismal performance. This brings me to my pick.
Magalhaes possesses better striking, better takedowns, and better stand-up skills. I think we will see Magalhaes come out and try to stand with Perosh for a while, just to get some experience and see how far his striking has come. There may be some ground exchanges, but I think the jiu-jitsu skills of both fighters will cancel one another out, and leave for grappling exchanges filled with positional stalling and waiting. I don’t see this being an entertaining fight at all, and I see Magalhaes winning an easy and uneventful unanimous decision. I will also go out on a limb and say this it is possible that he will hand Perosh his first submission loss in MMA competition.