Vladimir ‘The Janitor’ Matyushenko Officially Retires from MMA

crop_vladimir-matyushenko-300x225Thanking his fans for the years of support and leaving his fight gloves inside the Bellator cage, 43 year old Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko officially retired from the sport of mixed martial arts on Friday (April 11th) night. The Belarussian made his professional MMA debut in 1997 at the age of 25, winning three fights in one night under the IFC banner. He defeated Vernon White via neck crank submission in the first fight, then went on to make both Robert Lalonde and Anthony Macias tap to strikes. Ironically, two years and six fights later, it would be White snapping Matyushenko’s undefeated seven fight winning streak via controversial split decision to hand him his first taste of defeat. Following the first official loss of his career, “The Janitor” notched a pair of wins that earned him a call from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He made his Octagon debut at UFC 32, taking on Yuki Kondo and using his superior wrestling to dominate the fight on the mat en route to a unanimous decision victory. It was a solid debut for Matyushenko, and the highlight of the fight was when he knocked Kondo down in the third round with a side-kick to the body. With the UFC impressed by his performance, “The Janitor” was given a shot at Tito Ortiz and his light heavyweight gold at UFC 33. Unfortunately, the Belarussian was not successful in his bid for the title, as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” ground him out against the cage and on the mat for the majority of 25 minutes, successfully defending his belt with a unanimous decision victory. Matyushenko went on to have a somewhat successful career with the UFC, amassing a record of 7-5, while playing the role of “gatekeeper” for the promotion. His last two Octagon appearances resulted in losses, coming against top contenders Ryan Bader and Alexander Gustafsson. “The Janitor” was the heavy underdog entering both bouts. The other two losses during his tenure with the UFC came against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, so all of his losses were against champions and top contenders. After being released by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Matyushenko signed with Bellator. In his debut with the promotion, he defeated fellow UFC veteran Houston Alexander via unanimous decision. Following that bout, he was paired up in another match-up against another fellow UFC veteran in Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran. In an interview with MMA Oddsbreaker’s Frank Trigg, Matyushenko announced the fight against Beltran at Bellator 116 would in fact be his last. “The Janitor” did not show up in Temecula, CA on Friday (April 11th) night just to pick up a paycheck. He came looking for a fight, wanting to end his 16 and a half year-long career on a high note. He was doing well against Beltran, opting to keep the fight standing rather than shooting for takedowns. For a moment, it looked as if Matyushenko was striking his way towards a decision victory, giving the impression that after-all, he indeed will be riding off into the sunset on a high note. Unfortunately, when the fight did hit the mat in the third frame, it was Beltran who wound up in superior position, and with less than two minutes remaining in the fight, sunk in a north-south choke to earn the tap from the retiring veteran. It would have been great to see “The Janitor” go out on a win, but there’s solace in knowing he showed up to fight and left it all in the cage. My personal favorite Vladimir Matyushenko moment was his knockout of Jason Brilz at UFC 129. I was watching the fight with a friend, and right as the fight was starting, I said to him, “Matyushenko is going to knock him out in 20 seconds.” – What happened next? Matyushenko scored a knockout, and it was recorded at exactly 0:20 of the first round. That is one of those little moments of watching fights that will stick with me forever. Thank you, Vlad, for over 16 years of entertainment. The staff over at MMA Oddsbreaker wishes you great health and success in your life after professional fighting.

Written by Gabe Killian

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