Godofredo Pepey is the first finalist of TUF Brazil. The featherweight was scheduled to face Rodrigo Damm on the tenth episode, but his opponent was injured. That said, Vitor chose Marcos Vinicius Vina, who was already beaten by Hugo Wolverine, but who now had a second chance to compete for a contract with the UFC.
In a tough fight, Pepey had no break, but after almost submitting Vina with an Americana in the first round, he finished the fight in the second with the same maneuver.
“It was very hard. Vina worked well on the ground and pound, but I was focused on submitting him. I try to go where my opponent is weak, and I think my jiu-jitsu is much better than his. I believed it and I knew how to use that,” says Pepey, who warns future opponents: “For those who think I can’t trade, I’m a Muay Thai black belt as well.”
And there’s no denying it, his ground game is what makes him stand out. In a professional record that contains eight wins, six were by submission and two by knockout. Pepey never had to fight (professionally) all three rounds, and he went to a second round only once. The fighter explains why he’s so good on the ground:
“When I was 14 I started training jiu-jitsu with my brother, Godofredo Claude. He taught me the first moves, even before I went to the gym. I graduated as a black belt on MG team, and I have several titles in jiu-jitsu. I can work it well in my MMA fights, but I can trade standing up too, because I work my Muay Thai a lot.”
Inside the TUF house, Pepey lived through a unique situation, as he had to switch teams. Although when leaving Team Vitor for Wanderlei’s, the biggest fear was strategic.
“It was kind of choking. Everybody on Team Vitor knew my game already; they knew my high and my low points. That could work against me. That’s why I never show everything, I always have a card up my sleeve to use. But Wanderlei and Vitor are also professionals, and I admire Wand as much as I admire Vitor.”
On the tenth episode, Wanderlei Silva was happy with Pepey’s win, and admitted he misjudged the fighter. Wand thought he was too arrogant, but he changed his opinion.
“In the beginning I showed this image, the blue team wasn’t giving me much opening, and I wasn’t very nice either,” says Pepey. “But that’s who I am, I was focused in there. I hope I’m not showing myself as a different person. I’m a humble guy, who started from the bottom, and I never back down.”
In the end, Pepey draws attention for his technique, and also for the hair cut and dyed hair that makes people compare him to a famous soccer player in Brazil, Neymar. About the comparison, the fighter laughs.
“The hair is my style. In all my fights I dye it in a different color. If we’re going to work in an office, we have to go well dressed, and my office is the Octagon. I have to look good in the cage. I make my hair style, my entrance song and get in the mood.”