Now a free agent, reigning M-1 Global light-heavyweight champion Vinny Magalhaes said he's been contacted by multiple organizations.
And he and Steve Pacitti, one of his representatives, said the UFC – the organization in which he first gained some notoriety – is one of them.
As Magalhaes told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
), he's searching for a new home following a fallout with M-1 Global.
Magalhaes (9-5), a submission ace who was "The Ultimate Fighter 8" runner-up to Ryan Bader, was dropped from the UFC following a subsequent loss to Eliot Marshall. However, he's 7-1 since then, which included a four-fight run with M-1. However, he said his relationship with the organization went sour during an October title defense over Mikhail Zayats. Magalhaes and Pacitti said an M-1 official, Evgeni Kogan, was openly rooting for and coaching Zayats during the bout.
"We weren't so concerned about the cheering as the coaching," Pacitti said.
Magalhaes took the episode personally. He said while his opponent's punches and kicks were met with applause from Kogan, he was silent when Magalhaes landed his own strikes.
"The first thing I said when I heard about it was, 'I'm never going to fight for these guys again,'" Magalhaes said. "A few months later, that's still my thought."
That's why he's now fielding offers from outside organizations. M-1's exclusive negotiating period ended this past week, and Magalhaes hopes to have a new deal in place with a new organization shortly.
Initially, Magalhaes' representatives believed his M-1 contract could have been terminated due to the cheering/coaching incident, but they ultimately decided to wait it out.
"We were so close to the end of the contract ... we just let it play out, got out of it, and made him a free agent," Pacitti said. "Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations showing interest now."
Chief among them? The UFC.
"Yes, we're negotiating with the UFC right now," Pacitti said. "There are others, but the UFC is certainly in line. The UFC is definitely attractive."
Magalhaes, who admits he entered "TUF" and the UFC before his skill set was ready for it, feels differently now. Since his lost to Marshall at UFC 97, he's 7-1 with seven stoppages (including five submissions). In fact, he's currently riding a five-fight win streak that included a title win over Viktor Nemkov and the successful title defense over Zayats.
He's now ready to face the sport's best, and he knows those fighters are in the UFC. Additionally, fighting for the UFC comes with additional perks.
"Being in the UFC would be a preference," Magalhaes said. "But who knows. It's whoever gives the best offer, and it's not just about the money. It's about the best deal offer overall. (With the UFC), it's not just the money; it's the recognition. ... You can carry that for your life and open your gym and adevrtise yourself as a former UFC fighter. Just overall, it's good for your career. The name just weighs that much more.
"Tell me one fighter who doesn't want to be in the UFC. If he doesn't want to be in the UFC, then he probably just doesn't want to fight.