Junior (11-5) meets fellow credentialed jiu-jitsu champion Magalhaes (19-12) at 2021 PFL 5, which takes place Thursday at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. The main card airs on ESPN2 following prelims on ESPN+.
While his matchup with Magalhaes is being dubbed as a battle of two prolific jiu-jitsu artists, Junior is looking to display his full arsenal.
“I think you gotta mix it up,” Junior told MMA Junkie. “You can’t just strike or just grapple, be too predictable. You gotta do everything. You gotta strike when you have to strike, you got to grapple when you have to grapple. The idea for me is to mix it up, use everything that I have. Use the jiu-jitsu in the right moment, the striking in the right moment and try to get this win.”
Junior scored six points in his PFL debut when he submitted Tom Lawlor in the first round. The “Ultimate Fighter Brazil” winner finds himself in a good spot seeded at No. 2, but knows there’s still work to be done. Junior gives himself the striking edge, but was very respectful of ADCC champion Magalhaes’ ground game.
“The difference between us is he’s more muay Thai, he kicks a little more,” Junior said. “I’m more boxing, I train a lot with Luis Doria and Junior dos Santos so my style is more boxing, he kicks a little more. When we talk about striking, I got better footwork, he’s more flat-footed, but the jiu-jitsu I would say is kinda the same. We’re on the same level, we’re both good.
“He’s a great fighter, jiu-jitsu fighter, has great jiu-jitsu. We trained a long time ago, and I remember he was really good. I was always watching his jiu-jitsu matches too, and I would say we’re both good on the ground. I think the wrestling and the striking is gonna make a big difference in this fight.”
Submitting Magalhaes would be a massive feather in Junior’s cap, but that’s no easy task considering that he’s never been submitted. Either way, Junior is hoping to come out unscathed just like he did against Lawlor.
“It’s hard to say, Vinny is a tough guy,” Junior said. “I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be hard to submit him or even knock him out because he’s a very tough guy. But I said the same thing about Tom Lawlor, and I could finish him in the first round so I hope I can finish him in the first round, right? Don’t get hurt, don’t injure myself, go home, celebrate for two days and get back to the gym.”
This was originally published on www.mmajunkie.com