When I was in junior-high, our school janitor used to draw pictures of Batman on post-it notes and slap them over our gym lockers. The dude's English wasn't that good, but at the bottom of the note he would write something inspirational like 'Try hard every day!'. I thought we were the only ones that had a badass janitor with an extreme affection for DC Comics, but apparently there's another janitor that draws pictures of Batman for students with inspirational quotes. I'm not sure if it's the same dude. Usually, when our janitor drew Batman, his head looked anatomically incorrect. Sort of like a watermelon with cancer on top of two shoulders. There's also another Janitor that we know, and if you expect him to fix the clog in your kitchen sink...your hopes may be intercepted by an overhand right. Vladimir Matyushenko was the first (and last) Light Heavyweight Champion of IFL and with a slick 24-4 MMA record, the dude plans to place his hands on the UFC Light Heavyweight belt in the immediate future. Check out our interview with Vladimir 'The Janitor' Matyushenko conducted by Dick Grayson, only at MiddleEasy.com - Because MMA is Everything.
What kind of kid were you growing up? A normal kid. Small town in Belarus. You know working on a farm. Herding cows. Working in the yard but...playing ice hockey outside. Of course, getting in fights.
When you go out with your friends, what type of person are you?I change a little bit. I’m almost like a boy now. I don’t like going to night clubs and stuff like that, but I like to go out to the bar. I like to go outdoors -- I like, you know, skiing, snowboarding stuff like that but -- I’m a normal person. I’m not a bully or anything like that even if I look intimidating, a lot of people say I’m a nice guy.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not training?Sleeping. Eating. Haha, like I said I like outdoors. I like going fishing, hunting. I like snowboarding, stuff like that.
Since your return to the UFC, you have won two straight fights. How many more fights do you think it will take before you get a title shot?I don’t know. It all depends. I almost got one. It all depends. If the fight goes straight like that -- even then, its kind of hard to say. I definitely want a title shot, but I don’t think its going to happen tomorrow. Maybe this year. Maybe the year after. But I want to take fight by fight. I’m enjoying doing right now. I'm not in a hurry, but I’m going to get there.
This is your second stint in the UFC, how do you manage to stay relevant and to stay in the top tier all of these years?
Well I’ve been training and I’ve been fighting. I didn’t fight UFC but I fought in other organizations. I train a lot of fighters too. I have my own gym
and I always am in shape and pretty much train all year round. It’s pretty normal for me I think.
What’s the difference in the UFC between now and your first stint?I think back in the day, UFC they had a pretty high standard for their organization. I think a lot of things changed with the fans and the media. The fans are more educated. You're walking around and people know you personally. They don’t say ‘are you one of those crazy guys in the cage fighting?’ Now they just know. Its really pleasurable to fight in the UFC now and to interact with fans and stuff like that
What does Dana think about that? I know that he has a policy, but I believe you were fighting for another organization when you were signed, so I guess it worked out for you.Yeah, I signed it before and I guess they make exceptions for me and I appreciate it.
How do you think the upcoming fight between Overeem and Rogers will go?Well Overeem has been doing pretty good lately, so I guess Overeem. I’ll pick him.
Name one fighter that impresses you.I like Anderson Silva. I like St. Pierre—BJ Penn. All of those guys are pretty amazing.
In the upcoming rematch, if you could corner Machida in his fight against Shogun, what type of things would you tell Machida? Well definitely don’t be…be a little more aggressive. He needs it right now. He hesitates a little bit because he has all of the skills to beat up the guys. It’s not like self defense. He doesn’t have to run all the time. He’s got all the skills, so why not just go ahead and show it?
Name one camp that you’d like to train in other than the one that you are currently in.Greg Jackson’s is pretty interesting. I would train there.
Do you think the heavyweight division should be split in two?What do you mean? To make a super heavyweights?
Yeah. To make like a cruiserweight and a heavyweight.Yeah definitely, I think that there would be more matches. I think that super heavy weights would be good.
Do you think that somewhere down the line, MMA would benefit from a monopoly where everyone is under the same roof? Or do you think that there should still be multiple promotions?I don’t know. I’m not a business man. But it can be both. It doesn’t mean…monopoly’s not too bad—you take NFL; you take major league baseball but they have also minor league baseball so there will be structure like that where we will have top guys fighting UFC and there’s some kind of minor league. There’s examples of bad things and good things. Taking boxing for instance—there’s too many organizations there. I think its hurting boxing right now. It’s not helping it.
Do you follow women’s MMA?Yeah actually some of my fighters—and I’ve been cornering girls. It’s not where its supposed to be I think. I mean it definitely could be better but again look at the WNBA or something—nobody’s really watching it. The fighting’s kind of the same. The money’s not there. You could make more money doing something else.
Name an impressive up-and-comer that no one else has heard of yet. Is there anyone in your fight camp? Anyone in your gym?
Yeah, Vanessa Mariscal
Any thoughts on the recent health care reform?Yeah. I guess its going to help some people. But again people have to help themselves in the first place. Ive been a single father and self-employed for a long time. My son has insurance and I have insurance.
If you were about to get into a street fight, pick two comrades you would want to have there.I would take my son with me. My son and Jared Hamman and that would be enough.
Are there any werewolf myths in Belarus?Yeah definitely. I think any culture have that kind of things.
Are there any specific tales or stories?Not any I can think of right now. The area where I live it’s a lot of woods and foresty—actually we have wolves down there.
Name one superhero that is popular among the children in Belarus.I actually have right now on my table, I have Wolverine, so I guess I would pick that one.