Richie Vaculik: Part 1- MMA gave stability & best friends gave inspiration
By Owen Phillips 11/8/16 News
Australian UFC veteran Richie Vaculik has recently released a book about his life, ‘Bra Boy- Surfer, Fighter, Larrikin’ and MMA Files had the opportunity to catch up with him and ask about the book, his life and what the future holds. Part 1 discusses the effect of MMA and the people who inspired him.
Richie ‘Vas’ Vaculik is now an author to a book about his life ‘Bra Boy- Surfer, Fighter, Larrikin’, as told to Sean Doherty and published by Allen and Unwin, although this may never have happened if he went with his first instincts. “I was a little unsure and not convinced it would sell,” he said, after being approached by the publishers. This happened around the lead-up to UFC 193. The sales team and Sean Doherty managed to convince him it was a good idea.
Doherty already knew Vaculik well through surfing and had written several books previously including a more detailed look at the Bra Boys, ‘My Brothers Keeper: The Official Bra Boys Story’. At the beginning of 2016 Vaculik sat down with Doherty to get ideas together and the experience was therapeutic for Vaculik, “It made me join a few more dots, never gave things too much thought”, he said. Vaculik explained at the start, “Sean laughed and said ‘mate, I am going to be your councillor through this.’” Doherty guided Vaculik and helped him to delve more into topics that he thought were interesting for the book.
After an incident on the Gold Coast in 2007 that almost resulted in a gaol term, Vaculik described to MMA Files the period leading up to that moment, “I could get away with anything, I could party all weekend, train all week, I could do it all and it was always going to come up trumps.” He stated, “It was a huge turning point and a big wake-up call where that’s not how life works, and if you want to achieve something in mixed martial arts or surfing or whatever it is, stop making a ‘pork chop’ out of yourself and something’s got to change.”
Already training in boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), the introduction of mixed martial arts (MMA) to Vaculik’s life was the change he needed. He decided to take this new sport seriously; it gave him some direction and gave him something to focus his energy on. There is only one way to do MMA for Vaculik. “Mixed martial arts, if you’re not in it 110% and doing the little things right, you are going to get found out pretty quick in the cage. I was pretty honest with myself, when I said ‘alright, I want to make a go of mixed martial arts’, and because I had said that, I wanted to give myself the best chance and I didn’t want to party all weekend and just train a couple of times a week and expect myself to be good enough to win fights and get my way to the UFC.”
Credit goes to a lot people who helped Vaculik early in his MMA career. His original BJJ coaches Bruno Panno and Alex Prates, and veteran Australian MMA fighter Ian Schaffa. At this stage all mixed martial arts was to Vaculik was boxing and BJJ. He said, “If I can box and I can do jiu-jitsu… I am ready for MMA!” When Vaculik started focussing on MMA and became a fan, BJ Penn was a fighter he looked up to. “The way he handled himself inside and outside the cage, I always admired. I loved his fight style, I loved that he’s not a trash talker, just says it how it is. A real humble kind of guy.” There isn’t one person who is responsible for inspiring Vaculik’s MMA career; there are hundreds.
Two childhood friends who are still influencing Vaculik today are Mark Mathews and Macario De Souza. Mathews is a successful big wave surfer and keynote speaker who takes calculated risks. He will paddle out in huge surf, wait for the best wave and normally gets it. In other projects in his life like the Cape Fear surf contest or the night surfing that Mathews may not have had the credentials to complete, Vaculik said, “He backed himself and he did it, and he pulled it off. His willingness to back himself is something that I really look up to.”
Macario De Souza has an incredible work ethic, creativity and talent. “He is non-stop and his brain is always ticking over and he loves to work. These crazy ideas keep popping in his head and then he’s got the work ethic to always work on them. He’s non-stop, so that why I look up to Mac.” De Souza works so hard in his music and filmmaking career to achieve what he wants and Vaculik takes this mentality into the gym and things he is passionate about.
Surfing has been a huge part of Richie Vaculik’s life and has taken a back seat when he is preparing for a fight. Current UFC fighter Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has a keen interest in extreme sports like wakeboarding, horse riding and bull riding, and is loathed to stop having fun during fight camp because it helps him stay in the right frame of mind to put in the work during fight camp.
Vaculik still likes to get in the ocean when he is preparing for a fight. “The escape the ocean provides is huge, I can’t put into words how important that is in my life. I’ve grown up at the beach from nippers and it’s been my number one passion. Mixed martial arts came into my life a little bit later and that’s the priority, but without having the ocean there and having that escape, I would go a bit crazy”, he said.
“The hours in the gym, you come home, you rest but you’re thinking about your opponent, you’re thinking about the fight coming up, and you’re cutting weight. When you are around the ocean, whether it be spear-fishing or surfing, for those few hours, fighting is the furthest thing from your mind. It really helps recharge the batteries mentally and physically”. Richie Vaculik makes a conscious effort to not get wiped out at Cape Fear in the lead up to a fight and makes sure he stays healthy so he can make the walk to the cage.
Look out for Part 2 of our chat with Richie Vaculik coming up soon.