'The Janitor' Returns at UFC 103
September 19th’s UFC 103 show in Dallas is shaping up to be a family reunion of sorts - mixed martial arts style - as Vitor Belfort and Frank Trigg make their returns to the Octagon. But there’s another UFC vet coming back to the fold on the card at the American Airlines Center, and Vladimir Matyushenko is the type of fighter who could make an immediate impact on the talent-rich light heavyweight division.
“This is the same as if I would be a football player and got a chance to play in NFL,” said Matyushenko about coming back to the UFC after an absence of nearly six years. During that stretch, “The Janitor” has won nine of ten fights, earning an IFL championship and beating the likes of Jason Lambert, Tim Boetsch, Alex Schoenauer, and Jamal Patterson, with his only loss coming to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Needless to say, the time is right for the 38-year old Belarus native to get back in the UFC mix, and he will be looking to fight his way back to a world title opportunity. In 2001, Matyushenko got a shot at UFC gold when he battled Tito Ortiz at UFC 33. He would lose a five round unanimous decision that night in Las Vegas, becoming the only man among Ortiz’ record five title defenses to go the distance. But just going the distance isn’t enough for Matyushenko - who owns UFC wins over Yuki Kondo, Travis Wiuff, and Pedro Rizzo - and the second time around, he plans on taking the belt.
First things first though, and that means a fight against Mirko Cro Cop protégé Igor Pokrajac, who brings a 21-5 record into the Octagon for his UFC debut. “He’s a tough fighter,” said Matyushenko of his foe, but you can expect that the standout wrestler will be ready for him come September 19th.