Vinc Pichel went through hell for several years, but returned looking as good as ever last Summer. Now, ‘From Hell’ has another big opportunity at UFC Charlotte.
At UFC on FOX 27 Saturday, January 27, Vinc Pichel (10-1) has a chance to build on a three-fight UFC win streak that dates back to 2014. No, that’s not a typo: Pichel suffered a broken orbital in his fight with Anthony Njokuani at UFC 173. The lightweight subsequently spent over three years on the sidelines, prior to coming back and defeating Damien Brown last Summer.
During that time away, the injury, the collapse of a relationship, and a job that was causing him a nightmare combined to make his life hell. Which makes ‘From Hell’ an apt nickname. The good news is, things are looking better these days, as he told Cageside Press ahead of his fight at UFC Charlotte against Joaquim Silva.
“I had a really rough patch there for a minute,” admitted Pichel, “but things wound up falling back in place where they should be. I’m healthy, I quit that job that was causing me a lot of heartache. I’m training and fighting again. I really couldn’t be happier right now with my situation.”
In his time away from the cage, things weren’t always so sunny. “There were numerous times where I thought I’d have to quit fighting, I’d have to retire” he said. When his return came at UFC Fight Night 110 last June, “it was a huge, huge relief getting that fight.” And now, Vinc Pichel is “nice and healthy. I don’t have anything really weighing me down right now.”
As Pichel has gotten older, he’s modified his training. With age comes wisdom, and Pichel is training smarter these days. It’s something that dogged him in the past. “I’m the kind of person that doesn’t know when to quit” he explained. In the past, “if I was hurt or I was sore, I would still keep going.”
That mentality was a contributing factor in some of his past injuries, and just general wear and tear on the body. As a result, he’s switched things up in training so that “I’m just super smart. I still train really hard, but I’m just a little smarter about it now. I take better care of myself.” That includes “constantly icing myself when I’m sore or hurt. If I’m to the point that it’s effecting my training, I’ll take a day off and let myself heal up and rest.” Pichel also undergoes cryotherapy with a company called Cryo Active, which allows him to skip sitting in an ice bath. After all, Pichel lives in California for a reason — he’s no fan of the cold.
“I just take care of myself a lot more now” is how he summed it up. Yet it’s a little more than that. “I don’t necessarily rely so much on my strength and my hard-headedness any more” he continued. “I use more of my brain, my quick wit, I’m trying to be more of a technical fighter. That’s not to say I’m still not working on power or I’m not powerful, because I am, it’s just I’m a little smarter about it now. I learned a lot through my adversity.”
“In my mind, I’m going to go in there and take this dude’s head off”
In a way, it’s another fresh start: “It’s almost like I started training all over again” he told us. The changes are key, as Pichel feels that he’s “starting to become an old man now, 35 years old, and I’m in a young man’s sport.”
When he steps in the octagon on Saturday in Charlotte, NC, Vinc Pichel will be looking across the cage at the undefeated Joaquim Silva (10-0). Three of those bouts have come under the UFC banner, the most recent a split decision against Reza Madadi. What’s Pichel’s take on the fight?
“In my mind, I’m going to go in there and take this dude’s head off” Pichel said, clearly raring to go. “He is a black belt in BJJ, he’s a pretty good Muay Thai striker. However I see a lot of flaws in his game that I can expose.” Where Pichel feels he has the advantage is in style. “I feel like our styles, I’m going to have a big advantage on him, not only just size but technique, and the way that I fight.”
What it boils down to is, “I feel like I’ll be able to really just expose him, his weaknesses, and give him that first loss.”
He’s not a game planner, though. Instead he intends to go out and “let the fight happen.”
“My goal is to make him regret taking the fight”
“I’ve made game plans before, and almost every time they’ve failed when I just stuck to just that simple game plan” he admitted. “I always do best when I kind of just wing things and go with the flow.” And he has no problem being put in tough spots. “I’m comfortable being uncomfortable.”
When all is said and done, he wants Silva to be left feeling the fight – if he remembers it. “I want to knock him out, that’s what the fans what to see and that’s what I love to do” Pichel said. “I feel like tapping someone out, subbing someone is kind of giving the easy way out. It’s giving them a choice, and I don’t want to give them a choice. I want them to remember that fight, or forget it altogether.”
Or, to put it another way, “my goal is to make him regret taking the fight.”
If all goes well on Sunday, Pichel will be on a four-fight win streak. The lightweight division is deep, and that should put him in striking distance of a bigger fight. “I don’t really have anything in my head” he told us, when it comes to who might come next. “Honestly, the way I see it, a lot of the top ten guys are kind of p*****s. They’re all about ‘I’m ranked, so you don’t deserve to fight me.'”
One name that did come up was ‘Raging’ Al Iaquinta. “I’ve been trying to fight Al Iaquinta for a long time, because he beat me on TUF. We talked after the show, and he promised he’d give me a rematch” Pichel recalled. “But now he’s scared, he doesn’t want to fight me. I’ve kind of moved on now. I’m basically going to run through and knock off the head of whoever they put in front of me, so these guys can’t hide from me anymore.” The higher-ranked, the better. “I’m not afraid of fighting a top ten guy, I know skill-wise I can beat any of those guys on a given day.”
“For some reason, these top ten guys turn into these little p**** Kardashians, they just snivel and bitch if they don’t get their way nowadays”
In a way, it seems like the top of the rankings has become an in-club, with no one wanting to fight anyone below them. Asked if that’s something the UFC needed to address, Pichel wasn’t so sure, but admits its puzzling. “In my eyes, if I’m top ten, and some guy who’s not ranked wants to fight me, he thinks he can beat me, I have no problem beating the s*** out of this dude and letting him known why I’m top ten” ‘From Hell’ stated. “I feel like, as a fighter, that’s a mindset we all should have. But for some reason, these top ten guys turn into these little p**** Kardashians, they just snivel and bitch if they don’t get their way nowadays. I don’t know what else to say besides they’re scared.”
And never mind those rankings. “There’s a lot of unranked guys who I feel are better than a lot of top ten guys. Myself included.” Pichel sees it as how the sport has changed over the years — and not for the better. “It’s kind of sad that’s what the sport has become. It’s almost turning into a f***ing crybaby show, and whoever snivels enough gets the title shot, instead of earning it.”
On the plus side, he said, “eventually those guys won’t be able to hide from me.”
Getting back in the cage early in the year, Pichel is hoping to fight as much as he can in 2018. “I was out a long time, so I have a lot of catching up to do.” However, the fighter is also in school, and can only miss so many days. While he wants to fight til he’s 40, he can’t sacrifice his education. That means “I want to see myself fighting guys who are worth fighting.”
No easy fights, either. The risk “that I have more of a chance to lose a fight than to win a fight, is more attractive to me. I’m chasing that adrenaline rush, that’s what excites me” he said. He’s an adrenaline junkie overall, trying out skydiving, bungee jumping, and MMA is an extension of that. “I’m a pretty reckless bastard, my mom my whole life has said I’m going to die doing something f***ing stupid.”
“The first time I ever went on a plane, I went skydiving” Pichel said. It was a promise he made as a teenager, to go skydiving the first time he got on a plane. He kept it, crossing it off the list ahead of his appearance on TUF15. He recalled telling the pilot “I’ve never been in an airplane before” and getting the response “oh, one of these little Cessnas?” Imagine the pilot’s surprise when Pichel answered back “No I’ve never been in an airplane period. I’ve never been in the air higher than I can jump my dirt bike.”
He’s mostly flown under the radar of the UFC with his more extreme hobbies, luckily, with the promotion only ever censoring him for the odd offensive tweet. Though there’s no riding motorcycles when a fight contract is signed — “I’d like to thank Frank Mir for that” Pichel quipped.
Watch Vinc Pichel, who’s going for the knockout, face Joaquim Silva at UFC on FOX 27 (UFC Charlotte) this Saturday at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC. The fight opens the Fox Sports 1 preliminary card.