Milton Vieira (13-7), a 10-year veteran of professional MMA will be making his UFC debut at UFC 147 on June 23, against Felipe Arantes (14-4). Vieira is most famous for developing the Anaconda Choke, which was first used by his student, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, in the UFC in 2004. He took a few moments out of his hectic training schedule to speak with Lowkick.com.
Vieira has fought with many other promotions, including a one-fight contract with StrikeForce. Although most of his fights have been on a tough circuit in his native Brazil, Vieira recognizes that fighting in the UFC is a higher notch that will test his talent and ability: "I need to be prepared and be at my best to have good results. I have competed my whole career with tough and talented fighters and I will work hard to continue to have good results. I have worked my whole career to be in the UFC. I have fought in the best promotions outside of the UFC and I feel like I am prepared for this special opportunity. It is the best time in my life for this debut."
Vieira sees his Octagon debut against Arnates as a Striker vs BJJ kind of bout: "I defend Jiu-jitsu as an art in this fight. But, with that being said, I believe in Muay Thai as a fighting system and have put a lot of energy in my striking skills. I am close, for example, to getting my black belt from Master Sergio Cunha in Muay Thai. Master Sergio has been training me for more than 5 years. In all my fights I ask Sergio to help me in my preparations."
In light of that and as a veteran of the sport for 10 years, Vieira has definitely noticed the evolution of MMA beyond specialization in any one style: "MMA has evolved a lot. You can no longer fight if you only know one system. You can not just learn to defend against another system of fighting. A fighter needs to not only be able to defend from another system of fighting but they need to be able to fight aggressively in that art. If you are a wrester, for example, you also have to be a competent striker as well."
Having seen his Anaconda Choke used numerous times (and often erroneously referred to as the slightly similar D'Arce choke) it appears to be natural and very technical at the same time. I asked him if it was something preplanned or just came to him in the "spur of the moment" in training. According to Vieira: "Before I started using the position, I had never had any experience with it. I started working with the position a little more than 13 years ago in training. Since that time, I have put a lot of energy into the position. Now I feel very good with it because I know many different ways to apply the position from different situations. It is a submission I believe in a lot. My philosophy is to train hard and show all my techniques and positions. The reason is people can learn or show me a good defense which in turn will help me discover new positions. I believe in studying and applying the best techniques from the most effective styles especially for my MMA game. But there needs to be an open change of experience so all the techniques can evolve in a sophisticated manner."
Although he has trained a few big names in the MMA world, he does not like the idea of fighting team mates or friends: "We work hard together to become elite fighters and I would not want to contaminate that by fighting a friends or peer. If we must because there is a lot on the line then we have to sit and talk about it. But I have never done so, nor do I want to because I have a close relationship and friendship with my teammates and students. It would be a very hard fight to accept."
Although the overwhelming majority of MMA fighters have gotten involved in martial arts for the sport or competitive aspect, Vieira came into the arts with a different mindset and attitude: "When I started it was primarily for self-defense. But when I learned the philosophy in the Dojo, it became a lifestyle for me to be a better person. Thereafter, I started competing and also discovered that it was a way to make a good living and support my family. So it has become a big part of my life as it relates to being a good person, and having a career that I can be proud of."
In his upcoming bout he believes that he will emerge victorious while putting on an entertaining fight for the fans. At the close of the interview he gave thanks to all those who have helped him arrive at this point in his career: "Special thanks to Tapout, Marabraz, Bony Acai, Barzim, Go Outside Magazine, Lexani Wheels. Thanks to my training partners at BTT, my wife, friends, family, and my manager Alchemist Management."