Despite owning an impressive 24-4 professional record, Vladimir Matyushenko remains one of the most underrated light heavyweights in the world. The 39-year-old has quietly and efficiently gone about his business for nearly 13 solid years, so facing an opponent as heavily hyped as Jon Jones doesn’t faze him in the least.
“I’ve fought Tito Ortiz, I’ve fought other big names. It’s not the fight or the fighters, the hype comes from the general public. A fighter is a fighter,” Matyushenko told 5thRound.com. “I know Jones knows you have to go out and perform. Whatever people say, it’s just good for publicity, but the only way to prove it is to go out and fight.”
Vlad will enter the San Diego Sports Arena in Southern California this Sunday a heavy 4-to-1 underdog against the youngster. Despite what the Gambling Gods profess, the Belorussian is sitting nice and comfy right where he’s at.
“I like to be the underdog. I’m pretty comfortable being there and I’m ready to prove those who think I don’t deserve to be there wrong,” he confidently stated. “I think I’ve been in this sport for a while and I’ve been in the UFC for quite some time. I’ve been in the main event before. I think I’ve actually fought on the same card as Jon Jones and I think it’s a good opportunity for me to fight with him.”
Jones has been dubbed by most in the MMA community as the next coming, however Matyushenko is clearly his toughest test to date. Even if the veteran shocks the world and humbles the 23-year-old, he’s not expecting a title shot anytime soon – but best believe his stock will skyrocket.
“Each fight speaks for itself. They don’t have to promise me anything and I think Jon Jones is the biggest candidate right now to eventually fight for a championship. If I beat him, I don’t know where that puts me,” Vlad humbly said.
Matyushenko’s nickname is “The Janitor” as a joke after Dave Schultz, US Olympic and World champion freestyle wrestler, witnessed Matyushenko beat members of their formidable squad (including Olympian Kevin Jackson during a meet in Siberia. Their first impression of him had been when he was cleaning the mats in poor-looking clothing.
Let’s see if Vlad can mop the floor with Jones’ “Bones.”
Watch “UFC on Versus: Jones vs. Matyushenko” live this Sunday on Versus. The freebie broadcast kicks off at 9PM ET/6PM PT.