(This is probably the most modest, understated highlight reel I’ve ever seen. Very fitting, actually.)
After nearly 17 years as a professional MMA fighter, light-heavyweight veteran Vladimir Matyushenko has announced his retirement. Oddly enough, Matyushenko has a fight scheduled for next Friday, April 11th, where he’ll be facing Joey Beltran at Bellator 116. But in his mind, he’s already gone.
“This is my last fight,” the Janitor told Frank Trigg during an appearance on the “Toe to Toe With Trigg” interview show on MMAOddsbreaker earlier this week. “Doesn’t matter win or lose. That’s it. [I'll start] training people, there’s a possibility to open my own gym again. Or I could go the complete opposite direction and work the railroad. I’ll be happy just keeping myself busy.”
I’m going to call it right now: Matyushenko is going to lose to Beltran — not that it really matters, even to Matyushenko himself. (“Doesn’t matter win or lose.”) Remember last month when Cyrille Diabate announced his retirement before his fight against Ilir Latifi, and then got choked out without attempting a single significant strike? Diabate’s desire to win had already left him. He was just fulfilling an obligation. That’s basically what’s happening here with Matyushenko.
On the positive side, V-Mat enjoyed a long and mostly-successful MMA career which was highlighted by a light-heavyweight title reign during his 6-0 stint in the IFL, and 12 appearances in the UFC over two separate stints (2001-2003, 2009-2013), including a title fight against Tito Ortiz at UFC 33. Matyushenko put together a 27-7 lifetime record, with wins over guys like Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Tim Boetsch, Igor Pokrajac, and most recently Houston Alexander during his Bellator debut last September (which kind of sucked, to be honest). He helped launch the careers of Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson by serving as a reputable opponent that they could smash.
And now, the 43-year-old Belarusian is hanging up the gloves, perhaps to “work the railroad.” We wish Matyushenko the best with everything that comes next.