Listen to the first show done since the partnership between Alchemist Radio and SciFighting.com.
Host Bryan Levick and co-host and assistant editor at SciFighting.com, Adam Conklin speak to MMA veteran Vladimir Matyushenko and UFC veteran and WSOF welterweight contender Josh Burkman.
Bryan Levick: What is your frame knowing that this will be the last time that cage door shuts behind you?
Vladimir Matyushenko: A lot of people are asking me, “when are you gonna finish, how long are you gonna fight?” and now asking, “why are you finishing?” Right now I’m just getting ready for the fight. Its no different than any other fight. It’s still the same. I go to work like a normal work day. Still have to make weight, still have to win the fight but deep inside it’s a little bit sad, but you know, I’m happy. I’m happy with my career, I’m happy with what I have. Of course it could be better, I could have achieved a little bit more but it could be worse. I could be finishing much earlier. When you get in the ring and the referee has your hand up, that’s the happiest time of my life. I’m definitely going to miss that. You can’t get that anywhere else. No, I’m not going to miss the hard work making weight and injuries, that’s for sure. I’m still going to train, I’m still going to do what I do. I’m done with MMA, but I’m still going to coach, I’m still going to train but walking in to the cage and walking out, that’s going to be gone.
Bryan Levick: Was there any particular sequence or event that brought you to this decision or was it something that you’ve been thinking about for a long time?
Vladimir Matyushenko: No, I was always thinking about it but thinking is one thing and doing it is different and I think it was hard for me to do it earlier because MMA was getting bigger and bigger and now its cool to be a fighter. It’s getting harder and harder to prepare for the fights, it’s not just just the fight itself but preparation also like camp and going through all the stuff, it’s just been harder. So I was not thinking in advance it’s just in my mind you have to tell yourself one time and I want to finish on a strong note and I’m going to show that I’m still capable to compete. I want to leave on my own terms.
Adam Conklin: When you first announced your retirement, what kind of support did you get from your fans?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Mixed, of course my fans supported me and my family and my coaches but first I think nobody believed me, “no, no, you’re gonna fight again,” and you saw a lot of fighters that say they quit then they come back but for me it’s when I say I’m done, I’m done.
Adam Conklin: Is there anything that you’re going to miss about getting ready for a fight or during a fight that made this decision even harder for you?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yea, like I said earlier, the greatest feeling, and I think I can speak for all the fighters, when the referee gets your hand up and then all the hard work and sweat and blood and you’re just so happy in that moment, I can’t explain it but all the fighters know that and that’s why I think most of the fighters fight. Money, fame and all that stuff comes later but that time when you’re hands raised up and you knocked the guy out and you know its over now free to party and stuff, that’s a good feeling.
Bryan Levick: Joey Beltran is a hard hitter, he’s a tough guy to knock out, he doesn’t do anything particularly fantastic but he’s got a good chin, he can hit with the best of them and I’m sure you’ve watched tape, he definitely can take a beating.
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yea, he’s a tough fighter and you’re right, he’s good overall, nothing spectacular but he’s coming forward, he’s not running away and I think it’s a good matchup and its a good opportunity for me to show the fans what I’m still capable of.
Bryan Levick: Once this fight’s over you’re still going to continue to coach and train, are there any young fighters that we could keep our eyes open for?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yea definitely, I’ve been working with a few Russian guys and I’ve been working with Antoni Hardonk and his team, I’m actually sitting in the room with Jarred Hamman.
Adam Conklin: You said that you wanted to show fans what you’re still capable of. Does that put any added pressure on yourself going in to fight Beltran this Friday?
Vladimir Matyushenko: The pressure like this is always there, I think it’s especially when you’re an established fighter you don’t want to show that you suck at something so yea, that pressure, I’m used to it already, nothing new but that doesn’t make it easy, like I said, another day in the office.
Adam Conklin: Even though this is going to be your last fight, this is still going to be another day at the office for Vladimir Matyushenko?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yea I think you have to think that way otherwise you can mess your game up. I think you have to keep your head cold and just focus on the technique and strategy and how you’re going to do the fight. If you’re just going to think and be too sentimental about it I think it’s going to affect your performance. I know I don’t want to go that way.
Bryan Levick: Who are the couple guys you think you’ll be remembered for fighting?
Vladimir Matyushenko: I’ve been fighting the best of the best and [It won’t be for] who I won [against] but who I lost [against]. I lost to Tito Ortiz and Jon Jones and he became champion and he’s the best, take Alexander Gustafsson, take Pedro Rizzo, my preparation for kickboxing got started when I was getting ready for Pedro Rizzo. For Nogueira when I was getting ready for the fight, I was getting ready for armbars and stuff like that so all the fighters that fought me, I’m pretty much a product of the preparation for those fights so I’m pretty proud and thankful for those guys to give me those fights.
Bryan Levick: What’s the biggest thing you can take away from your career?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Taken away? Obviously, your knowledge and the things I learned over the years is never going to go away from me, no one can take it away from me so it’s going to stay with me and then I can transfer and give it to somebody else, some young kids and I think it’s valuable. I think it’s very great.
Adam Conklin: I was wondering, since the early days, what was it like to get to UFC 129 with the packed arena?
Vladimir Matyushenko: I felt like [I had to] throw up a little bit. Getting from three fights a night with the headbutts allowed and only a few people watching you to the point where my career when you see 100,000 people watching you, I think it’s a big achievement, not just mine, I was happy for all the MMA community because that’s how far the sport has been.
Adam Conklin: How long did it take them to approach you and why did you choose Bellator?
Vladimir Matyushenko: It was not that long. I didn’t want to finish my career on a [loss]. I lost to Bader and that’s not the kind of loss I want, it’s just a technical mistake from my point. I could have defended that choke pretty easy afterwards, I was like oh shit, if I didn’t do that stupid thing. If I just stood up on my hands and my toes, I would be fine and I just tried to pull my head up. I talked to the UFC and I was asking to give me one more chance just to get my last fight and unfortunately I didn’t have that choice. At that time they cut many people and we are still friends but I had to move on, they couldn’t do one more fight. I took Bellator as a good sign because that was my chance to kind of redeem myself in my own life and to show the fans what I’m capable of and I did great against Houston Alexander and I’m going to be 100% for this fight.
Bryan Levick: Did you ever think you’d see MMA on TV/FOX/Internet?
Vladimir Matyushenko: I thought someday it was going to happen but I didn’t know it was going to happen that fast and I thick nobody knew it, even when I talked to top officials in the UFC and promoters they say they never thought it was going to happen but it did so it’s a blessing and again, I was thinking someday and I was getting older, it was never going to happen but it happened and that’s why I chose to stay for a few years longer because now its a good time to be a fighter.
For the complete transcription of Josh Burkman’s interview visit SciFighting.com