Vladimir Matyushenko is known by his nickname of “The Janitor” quite well in the MMA community.
Currently, Matyushenko is recovering from a muscle injury that knocked him out of a planned fight last month with Alexander Gustafsson. But he has his sights set on avenging two defeats that still sting and cleaning up the mess left behind from those losses.
“I’ll fight anybody,” Matyushenko said. “But I’d like to have rematches with either Tito Ortiz or “Lil” Nog (Antonio Rogerio Nogueira).”
Ortiz defeated “The Janitor” a decade ago by unanimous decision. Nogueira and Matyushenko are 1-1 vs. each other, with “Lil” Nog winning in 2009 by knockout and Matyushenko scoring a decision win in 2002.
“‘Lil’ Nog would be perfect,” Matyushenko said. “We’re one and one, and in my second fight with him I was injured. First time I beat him fair and square. We were both supposed to fight at UFC 133, but we both got injured, so time wise I think we match up, so that would be nice.
“I think the UFC is aware of that as my management has been talking to them. It’s up to Nogueira and his management team.”
Reports had Matyushenko the early candidate to replace Phil Davis and fight Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 133, but the injury put those plans down the drain.
“Everything happened at the same time,” Matyushenko said. “I was training with the Dan Henderson camp, and my muscles, my butt was still sore. I didn’t know how bad the injury was. They called me to ask about fighting Rashad and I said yes, got to a gas station and I couldn’t even get out of the car. It just got worse and worse.
“It was a muscle injury. I pulled the muscle that was connected to my butt and the groin. Anyone who has ever had this kind of injury knows that it’s one of the worst you can have. Nothing was torn, but it contracted all my muscles, I wasn’t able to walk for a couple of weeks.”
Matyushenko (26-5) has won four of his last five fights since 2009 in the UFC, with the lone loss coming to current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Prior to his recent string of wins, “The Janitor” won eight straight before the previously mentioned meeting with Nogueira.
“In the fight game, it’s kind of like life, it goes up and down,” the 40-year-old said. “I almost quit 10 years ago, went back to the UFC, and then five years later. You always have those thoughts in your head but there’s nothing like going in the cage and winning. It brings you up, and right now, after two wins, I’m feeling pretty good about myself.