Sixteen years of competition is a long time to be active in any sport, but when it's mixed martial arts, an extra measure of respect must be given. The wear and tear it puts on the body, and the fact that it's just as mentally taxing as it is physical, is a price that only a handful of men and women are willing to pay. Of that handful, very few make it to 'career' level.
At 42 years of age, and with those grueling 16 years invested into MMA, Vladimir Matyushenko is still throwing leather for a living. Admittedly, he doesn't know how long his body will be able to sustain the level of physical punishment he puts it through, but for now, it's what makes him happy and keeps boredom at bay.
Tomorrow, Vladimir will see his 34th fight under the Bellator banner. He'll be facing another 40 something fighter in Houston Alexander in a non-tournament bout. Recently, my MMA Sentinel co-host, Iain Kidd and I conducted a short interview with 'The Janitor' who talked about his opponent, his split from the UFC, and how long he plans to keep fighting. Here's what he had to say:
Upcoming Fight Against Houston Alexander
Houston is a veteran too, he's a pretty old dude. He's very explosive and has some knockouts, but he's been knocked out too. If I strike with him I'm looking forward to it being kind of 50/50, taking chances, but taking him down will, I think, be the better idea.
[Previously scheduled opponent] Christian has more accuracy in his punches and a longer reach. Houston is more explosive and throws more combos, so I had to switch my training a little bit.
Being released from the UFC
I was a little surprised. I thought they were going to give me one more chance to show myself, because that quick submission was just a technical mistake. I was getting ready for that fight for so long, and I feel like I didn't show enough to the fans and the promotion. I understand, there's no hard feelings. I talked to Dana White right afterwards and we shook hands. We're cool. I understand that the newcomers come in and they have to test them and move on. Who knows, maybe I'll come back? There was a second run, maybe there will be a third one.
How Long Do You Plan to Keep Fighting
Who knows? We'll see after this fight. Part of me, even back in the day, even 10 years ago when I trained hard, when I was getting ready for a fight I'd be like, 'That's the last one, I'm done, that was too hard for me.' Then you come back, you recover and you find yourself bored and it's like, 'Ok, I'll do it again for the next 10 years.' [laughs]
You can follow Vladimir via his Twitter account, @VladTheJanitor