주요 콘텐츠로 건너뛰기
Vinc Pichel reacts after his decision victory over Jim Miller in their lightweight bout during the UFC 252 event at UFC APEX on August 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Vinc Pichel Goes Deep

Veteran Reflects On What The Fight Game Has Meant To His Life Ahead Of UFC São Paulo Return

Vinc Pichel laughs when I ask him where he’s been since his last fight against Mark O. Madsen in April of 2022.

“Just lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike.”

He’s serious. Thankfully, for him, the wait is almost over as he prepares to face Ismael Bonfim in Sao Paulo this weekend, but losing over a year-and-a-half at the age of 40 is no laughing matter.

Order UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

Not that he’s letting that daunting number affect him on the way to his 11th trip to the Octagon. 

Vinc Pichel kicks Austin Hubbard in their lightweight matchup at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum on August 21 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Vinc Pichel kicks Austin Hubbard in their lightweight matchup at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum on August 21 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“When I was younger, I thought 30 was old, “he said. “And as I'm 40, I don't feel old. I feel the same as I was when I was in my twenties or thirties.”

That’s a good thing in this business, and the results have reflected it, as Pichel has won three of his last four, with the only defeat a decision loss to Madsen. Sure, it stings to sit on a loss for this long, but Pichel has seen enough over his years in the sport to know how to deal with setbacks and come back firing.

UFC São Paulo Fight By Fight Preview | Brazilian Breakdown

“I can't say that I'm not hurting; sometimes I do,” he said. “My body's definitely feeling my age at times, but I'm just a little more cautious about it now. So I keep going because, man, everyone's in their twenties now, so it's like I'm fighting my older self every day.”

He’s winning that fight, though, and he’s made it to Brazil in shape and ready to go against the older Bonfim brother. That’s more than half the battle, because now that he’s made it to fight week, all he has to do is fight on Saturday, and that’s the payoff for all the aches and pains because for Pichel, it truly is about what happens in the Octagon when the gate is locked and it’s just him and his opponent about to settle their business.

Vinc Pichel punches Jim Miller in their lightweight bout during the UFC 252 event at UFC APEX on August 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Vinc Pichel punches Jim Miller in their lightweight bout during the UFC 252 event at UFC APEX on August 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“Fighting is the one thing in my life that I feel has never let me down,” Pichel said. “Of course, I've had losses and I've had rough days, but it's something that will never lie to me. It's something that'll never cheat me. It's something that'll never dilute my reality. So as far as fighting, I absolutely love that aspect of it. I love not knowing what's going to happen. I love the camaraderie that I get with the guys, I love the friends that I've made. And I really love who I've become because of fighting. It's almost like the love of my life. It's like you find a woman and you love her and you're never going to let that woman go. You find a good woman, you don't let her go. And fighting is kind of like that for me. We have our ups and downs, but, as a whole, we're in this together.”

That look inside Pichel isn’t surprising, as he’s one of the most honest fighters in the sport. And one who has his life together better than most. So when he pinned a post on Instagram from before his August 2021 win over Austin Hubbard and wrote “There are very few moments in life that allow me to be my violent self without consequence, fighting does that for me and why I fight the way I do,” I had to ask him about. Remember, this is the guy who introduced me and my granddaughter to the cartoon Bluey, because that’s a favorite of his girlfriend’s six-year-old daughter. So where does this violent Vinc Pichel come from?

“Honestly, I write all that stuff for me as a little reminder to kind of humble myself sometimes, because if I'm just like anybody else, my head can grow and poison myself. I could poison my reality the same way anybody else can. And so I just got to stay away from that. But yeah, this is the way I've been describing myself to people. I'm a lover who was born into a world of hate. Ever since I've been younger, I've always wanted social interactions. I've always loved being around people and people's energy and certain things have really attracted me. But when I was growing up, I was honestly just taught hate and violence. I was kind of trained that way to be that natural violent person. And anybody who knows me will call me a big old teddy bear or a pushover, because I'm just so happy go lucky about a lot of s**t. But on the end of that, if you are the kind of person who's going to threaten me or someone I love, you better pack a f**king lunch, because I'll sacrifice myself to take you out.”

Vinc Pichel reacts after his unanimous decision victory over Austin Hubbard in their lightweight matchup at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum on August 21 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Vinc Pichel reacts after his unanimous decision victory over Austin Hubbard in their lightweight matchup at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum on August 21 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

In other words, maybe Pichel isn’t that much different from everyone else who is willing to do whatever’s necessary to protect his friends and family. But it was a harrowing early life that shaped who he became, even if he won’t let that define his actions.

MORE FIGHT NIGHT: Almeida's Best Finishes | Angela Hill Interview | Fighters On The Rise | Dalby Feeling Great | Derrick Lewis Interview | Denise Gomes' Streak

“This is going to sound just so basic, but my motivation is the anger that I have inside me,” said Pichel. “Like I said, I'm very happy go lucky. I laugh a lot, but deep into me, I have this hole that'll never be filled, and that hole is my anger. And admittedly, I'm not very proud of it. I'm not proud of the anger and my emotions because they're a big part of me, too. And that was something that fighting really helped me accept. And that post of me just being able to be my violent self, you know how they say everyone's got three faces. They’ve got the face you show your friends, the face you show your family, and the face you show nobody.”

He pauses, then continues.

Please enable Javascript to view this content

“My face that nobody sees, everybody sees, and that’s my fighting. That's my third face that nobody knows about me. And they know about it, but they really don't understand it. It's a reserved thing I have in me now, and I've learned to control it. So I kind of have this Punisher-type mentality inside of me where my first thought is protect. My first thought is to always protect and avoid the issues, but if there's an issue, I'm going to headbutt it. I'm going to face that issue head on.”

It's a battle he wages within himself, but like coming to grips with being 40 years old in a young man’s game, he’s got the upper hand and he’s winning. He’s not a doom and gloom character or someone tiptoeing through life waiting for something bad to happen. His inner circle loves him and that’s good enough for him. Plus, he gets to fight on Saturday.

“Achievements and the material things that you get from fighting are great,” Pichel said. “But my end goal isn't really that. It's just to be the best me I can. And fighting has really helped me. Admittedly, I've had a really rough go and I've been put through some things in my life that I wish no one had to ever go through in their life. But fighting has been the one thing that has helped me get through that and accept a lot of things in my life. And fighting can really put a perspective on you that nothing else can.”

Order UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs Lewis took place live from Ibirapuera Arena in São Paulo, Brazil on November 4, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass