Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko (24-5) is a veteran of the sport who has defeated the likes of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Pedro Rizzo, and Travis Wiuff.
Matyushenko will look to redeem himself from a devastating loss to light heavyweight star Jon Jones when he meets Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira in Oberhausen, Germany.
Bleacher Report’s Andrew Gladstone spoke with Matyushenko to discuss how he and Cacareco were actually scheduled to face each other twice before, John Wayne movies, Jon Jones and a whole lot more.
What’s your take on fighting in Germany for the first time?
"It’s pretty exciting. Actually I was planning a trip to go see my folks Belarus in September and it happened because of my fight and I had an opportunity to go there. I have a lot of fans coming from Amsterdam; it’s very exciting."
Do you have a lot of family coming from Russia?
"No they stay there; they don’t like to travel a lot. I do have a few friends who are coming from all over."
How’s your gym, the VMAT Gym, coming along?
"It’s coming along good; it’s just kind of hard for me to concentrate on fighting and teaching and my business. It’s because I’ve been fighting pretty regularly, every three or four months. In between then train my fighters and I travel a lot."
"I’m enjoying teaching little kids and stuff like that; it’s pretty fun."
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
"It helps if you know what you’re doing. I have a guy who lost over 50 lbs in over two months and he was like, ‘Oh Vladimir you’re great.’ I’m not even doing anything; it’s like a hobby to me."
"I’m enjoying it, plus it’s good for my fighting; it’s kind of like you’re a car racer and you’re fixing cars; you’re still into it."
Are there any new prospects in your gym that we haven’t heard of?
"No, just Jared Hamman and Antoni Hardonk. He’s taking time off a little bit right now. He just got married. Jared, he just got fight of the night and he just got married. He’s going to be in my corner. He’s actually on his honeymoon right now, but he’s going to be in my corner in Germany."
"With the fighters I find it tough to train fighters and then be a fighter yourself. I think it’s easier to train recreational fighters who have no obligations; it’s only a one-hour/two-hour session. Training fighters is like a 24/7 job and being a fighter myself, it’s pretty hard to do."
How do you balance it all?
"In a way it can help if you stay in shape. Like after my fight with Jon Jones and my unfortunate loss. I couldn’t take any time off I just had to get right back in to help Jared and be his sparring partner and stuff like that. It helped me stay in shape too. I don’t have to work as hard as he did."
"Sometimes you get burnt out, that’s for sure. I think it’s important to help be in somebody’s corner, it helps your mental preparation for the fight. So I think the mental training is pretty good."
What have you learned since the Jon Jones fight? What did you feel went wrong?
"I learned that the fight game becomes more dynamic and it becomes fast. You can’t just be in bad positions, which I was in half guard and he passed to side control and I teach my students you can’t stay there. In the grappling realm you can still be there but in fighting you can’t, because somebody like Jon Jones who is big, strong and fast will quickly take advantage and you can’t be there."
"You can see in the most recent fight between Brock Lesnar and Velasquez. Brock Lesnar took him down and Velasquez just jumped back in and that’s what you want. That’s what I learned, you can’t take any second off in the fight, and you have to be fighting every friggin' second."
Since you’re coming off a loss, do you feel any added pressure to perform in this fight against Cacareco?
"No it’s not like a pressure, I’m actually happy to go and take a chance and redeem myself. I hate to walk around with a loss kind of hanging over me. I want to thank the UFC for calling me and I was really happy that it happened."
Not many people are aware of Cacareco Ferreira other than the hard-core fans of the sport. He’s been a veteran of the game for sometime now, what do you think are his biggest weapons in the fight? And how do you think the fight will go?
"Definitely submission is his biggest game. And definitely if he’s an unknown person, you can go on youtube and you can find a bunch of fights of his, not just MMA but Abu Dhabi and stuff like that. Submissions, definitely he’s a dangerous opponent, and he can master them pretty good. Kimuras, guillotines, leg locks, stuff like that, he’s pretty good."
Have you brought in anyone specific to deal with his level of jiu-jitsu?
"Oh yeah, I’ve been around Jiu-Jitsu guys since I’ve started MMA, that’s a big part of it and I continue to work on it. Right now I’m working on more specific things like a kimura, leg locks, and guillotines and his body type. He’s kind of short, but he’s really stocky and strong."
According to Ferreira, in an interview with Tatame you both were scheduled to face each other on two different occasions. Can you clue us in on why you two haven’t fought up until now?
"Well unfortunately we were scheduled to a few years ago to fight in Elite XC, but there was a time when Affliction kind of fell down and Elite XC went bankrupt and wouldn’t fight. Maybe we’re fortunate to fight in the UFC right now; it’s a good thing."
You originally were scheduled to fight Jason Brilz at UFC 122 before facing Cacareco. How have you changed up your training if at all?
"Not much, training for MMA is training for MMA, but a little more specific work, of course. Cacareco is a little bit shorter, a little bit stockier and his strong points are submissions. Jason Brilz is more taller, stronger, kind of a brawler and a takedown guy."
"I was ready for this, because it happens not the first time. It’s happened to me more than a few times, people get hurt in MMA, pretty often in training. I was ready for this."
I noticed in an interview with Middle Easy, you’re a fan of the X-men, more specifically Wolverine. Are you a fan of the old Marvel comics or the movies, or is it a bit of both?
"Well you got to picture me, coming into the United States and I was 25 coming into this country. I read some books, but I didn’t speak any English. In Russia, all we had is John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. But, I learned all those things afterwards, so I’m kind of an old guy in a way."
What’s your favorite John Wayne movie?
"I still love Alamo. I actually went to see my son; he’s in the air force in San Antonio and I went to Alamo cause it’s a big historical part of the United States."
So what other movies did you guys say that you watch?
"Yeah, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Right now, I catch up with the comics and everything, but it took me a while, I didn’t grow up with comics and stuff like that. I still like Spider Man and Iron Man is a pretty cool movie too."
After this fight, you have two-fights remaining on your UFC contract. I’m sure your goal is to take out some top contenders next. But is there anyone in particular you’d like to face next?
"Right now it’s kind of hard to tell because things change so fast. I was talking about a rematch with Tito and Lil’ Nog and I want to see how things go. I just want to take it fight by fight and I think I have to redeem myself and get my win right now. I hope I can just keep going fighting and who ever is next, I don’t decline a fight, and I’ll fight anyone there."
Do you have anything to say in closing?
"No, I just want to thank you guys, thank the media and thank my management team. Also, you guys can check me out on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/vladthejanitor."