Special guest feature by Duane Finley.
A quick examination of the UFC ranks shows there is a changing of the guard in progress throughout the organization. While former champions and legends are leaving their former posts atop their respective weight classes, the young lions of the sport are fiercely battling to replace them. UFC veteran Vladimir Matyushenko (24-5) can hear the next wave coming but has no plans to step politely aside. "The Janitor" recently clashed with the possible future of the sport in Jon Jones and is aware that he needs to get back on track as quickly as possible if he is to stay competitive in the dog eat dog world of the UFC light heavyweight division. Matyushenko was originally slated to face Jason Brilz at UFC 122 but due to an injury Brilz suffered in training, Matyushenko will now officially welcome UFC newcomer Alexandre Ferreira aka "Cacareco" to the biggest stage in combat sports. Preparing to leave for Germany "The Janitor" spoke to Duane Finley for this Bloody Elbow Exclusive interview and as the days tick down to UFC 122 in Oberhausen Germany Matyushenko is eager to get back into the octagon.
When asked how his training had gone in preparation for the fight Matyushenko replied, "I feel great and training has been very good. A few more days of hard training left and then it is off to Germany."
Matyushenko was originally preparing for Jason Brilz and after he was forced to withdraw the UFC decided to bring in newcomer Alexandre Ferreira. I asked Vladimir if it was difficult switching opponents mid-camp and if the shake up had effected his training.
"It's pretty common in MMA," Matyushenko answered. "People get hurt here and there. This is not my first time dealing with this so I'm always ready to fight anybody down to the last moment."
While Brilz came from a wrestling background, Ferreira is primarily known as a submission fighter. As we discussed his game plan for the fight Vladimir stated, "You always try to dictate where the fight goes first but anything can happen. I have to keep him from getting my back or getting close with a submission so I have been working my defense."
The UFC light heavyweight division has been the crown jewel of the organization for years. The weight class is often regarded as the most exciting division in the sport and with the current level of competition a loss can be costly when it comes to divisional placement.
Matyushenko was asked where a win at UFC 122 placed him in the picture to which he replied, "A win is much better than a loss and I think a victory will bring me back on track. I'm aware that I have a few more fights to win but definitely the title is what I'm going for."
More from Matyushenko in the full entry.
In his most recent outing Matyushenko faced the fastest rising star in MMA Jon "Bones" Jones at UFC Live on Versus 2. The bout was pitted as old school vs. new school and Jones was able to employ a precise game plan that allowed him to win the fight in short fashion.
I asked Vladimir if there was anything about Jones that has surprised him.
"Nothing really surprised me," Matyushenko responded. "He just proved that he is a pretty good athlete. He is a smart guy who saw an advantage and he took it."
Being a 13 year veteran of the sport Matyushenko has seen many changes over the years as to how fighters interact with both the fans and the media. Matyushenko has been outspoken in the past about how a fighter needs to keep himself visible in today's instant headline world and I asked him to describe some of the specific changes.
"It has changed in a great way...just in the fact that I am talking to your right now," he stated. "The media is more educated, asking the right questions and there is a greater connection between fighter and fan. It has been great and I am really enjoying it right now...interacting with the fans."
The UFC will make its return to Germany for UFC 122 and the organization has released further details on new global markets they plan to visit in the near future.When asked his opinion on the manner in which the UFC is globally expanding Matyushenko said, "I think they are doing the right things to extend the UFC and MMA in general to the world. I think it is a great opportunity to grow."
The current landscape of the UFC is experiencing somewhat of a sea change throughout the divisional rankings as legends like Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture are considering retirement and former champions like Tito Ortiz and B.J. Penn are fighting the down turn of their careers. I asked Vladimir as a MMA veteran if winning was simply enough these days or if he felt that he would need to win in impressive fashion to stay in the hunt.
"I think people want to see what they paid for and want to see some action," he replied. "People want to see the good stuff and it's become very hard to do because competition is much more difficult than before. You just have to stay in shape and be ready to fight."
A with a 2-1 record since returning to the UFC a victory at UFC 122 has the potential to put Vladimir Matyushenko back in the mix at 205 lbs. As the interview came to a close "The Janitor" let the readers of Bloody Elbow know where they can find him.
"You can find me on Twitter @vladthejanitor and you guys check it out and see what is going on with me as well as current news for MMA and the UFC."