MMAPrime.TV’s lead writer Ryan Justason sat down with MMA veteran and UFC star Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko. The Janitor explains how he received his nickname, his gym, who he would like a rematch with and how he hasn’t been in a street fight since turning professional.
Ryan Justason: There is an interesting story in how you received your nickname. Can you tell us how you got your nickname?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Uh yeah, it started a while ago when I was 18. So 20 years ago. Back in Russia, I just got out of the Military and they let me go and wrestle in a tournament. It was an international tournament. It was to qualify for the Olympics and all the big stars were there. I guess they called me that because I would wipe the mats with all the big stars and champions including Russians and Americans. At this event, I didn’t wrestle Mark Coleman but afterwards when ever I saw Mark, he would say “hey, what’s up janitor”? So when I started fighting, “The Janitor” stuck with me because I would then clean up the cage or ring with people. It’s kind of weird in the beginning but after a while I find that it’s cool.
RJ: You last fought Elliot Marshall where you defeated him via split decision. Can you tell us about this fight?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yeah. It wasn’t a good strategy for my side and kind of a bad strategy for his. I knew what he was going to do and he should have stuck with his Jiu Jitsu game but he chose to be on his feet. I know that many think he was trying to make me feel uncomfortable on the feet and then go to the ground and use it but I think opposite. He was on his feet and he kept running from me. He’s got the longer reach but I hit him hard a few times and I think he was afraid to come and exchange with me. He was fighting good on the ground and I didn’t want to take any chances. I do want to try out my srtiking skills although I couldn’t knock him out because he has longer reach and that kept me away. I was surprised that it was a split decision and that people cheered for Elliot.
RJ: Before your recent return to the UFC, you last fought in the UFC in 2003. Do you notice any changes in the promotion from then to now?
Vladimir Matyushenko: I don’t think it’s changed in promotions but I definitely think their are more people in my weight class. Back then, you couldn’t could count more people on your hand then now. Their are so many good guys at 205. But as far as promotion, we have a pretty high standard. Now we make more money and show around 3 shows a month. Today, It is more acceptable in today’s society. Before they would ask if you were one of those guys slugging each other but now people have accepted it. It’s pretty cool to fight right now and I think that that’s the biggest change.
RJ: Being back in the UFC and at 205, are you looking for a rematch with Tito Ortiz and a rubber match with Rogerio Nogueira?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yeah, definitely. I think those are some top 2 guys in my weight. I think if the UFC are willing to give me one of those guys, I will be glad.
RJ: You have been fighting professionally since 1997. Have you ever been in a street fight since turning pro?
Vladimir Matyushenko: No haha. Not at all. Sometimes I slap around my son but it’s only in a sparring match. He is bigger than me now. He is 6 foot 6. He actually just went to the Airforce. But anyway, people just don’t start fights with me. I guess I just have this look in my eyes. Back in the day, ofcourse. When I was a kid in Russia, it was kind of rough. In those days, you could not win haha. If you win, you go to jail. If you lose, you win nothing.
RJ: You recently opened up your Gym VMAT. Can you tell us about your gym and what it offers?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yeah. I opened it up 3 years ago. I was looking for a place to train and I was going from gym to gym. I then decided to open up my own place to pretty much train myself first and then my fighters. Then a lot of guys from other gyms would come over. Now we have whatever classes you want. It’s a great place in El Segundo, California. The gym is also located right next to LAX Airport.