With Sean O’Connell standing between himself and a million dollars, Vinny Magalhaes knows that one punch could change either man’s fortunes in an instant.
New York, NY — On New Year’s Eve, a pair of popular former UFC fighters will have a chance to earn the kind of money they never saw from their former employer. Vinny Magalhaes and Sean O’Connell will meet at PFL 11 Monday, with a million dollars on the line. And the promotion’s inaugural light heavyweight championship. It’s a key moment for both fighters, who likely never dreamed they’d be in this spot just two years ago.
Yet the Professional Fighter’s League, in their first season, changed that. The promotion seems to have found its stride with the tournament format, offering a modern twist on an age-old staple of martial arts. The money adds real stakes. The finale matters. And Magalhaes, who finished all four of his fights to make it to the PFL Championship, knows what is expected of him. He also knows his opponent will expect it.
“Most guys that fight me expect me to try to take them to the ground,” Magalhaes admitted. “They know that I have a huge advantage when it comes to that kind of game. So I expect him to try to shut that down.”
“The one risk factor is always like a knockout power punch,” Magalhaes continued. “But then again, when it comes down to that, even like any guy my size, including myself, can make that happen. When it comes down to it, being lucky, you know both of us actually can be lucky now. I can land a good shot, I can drop him, just like he can land a good shot, drop me.”
With all that in mind, Magalhaes isn’t focused on what O’Connell might do. “I can’t be worried about what he’s going to do,” the BJJ ace explained. Instead, he’s looking at his own performance, “just like me bringing myself, like my best game.”
Magalhaes now has a chance to make the kind of money he never though possible at this point in his career. A longtime competitor at the highest level, his thinking was always that “if I become a champion in the UFC, I’m going to make good money. If I become a champion in another promotion, and keep defending my titles, I’m going to make good money.” Outside of that, however, “you definitely never think about ‘well I’m going to go to this new promotion, and potentially win [a million dollars] in six months.” That just doesn’t happen. At least until the PFL.
Magalhaes will now enter his fifth fight of 2018, with a title and a cool million dollars on the line. That goes down at the PFL Championship (PFL 11) on December 31 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The event airs live on NBC SN, and internationally on Facebook Watch.