SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Vladimir Matyushenko will retire from professional mixed martial arts following his Friday fight at Bellator 116, he recently told MMAWeekly.com.
Matyushenko said – win, lose or draw – that the match-up with Joey Beltran in Temecula, Calif. will be the last of his near-17-year career, citing a need to step away from rigorous training camps and injuries.
“The injuries and stuff like that, I can’t [deal with] that anymore,” he said. “That’s why I want to make it my last fight because I don’t think I can take another camp. Training and stuff like that is getting harder and harder.”
Matyushenko started his career in 1997, fighting three times in one night at International Fighting Championship 5 and picking up wins in each contest. He would go on to win the first seven fights of his career, dropping his first career loss in 1999 against Vernon “Tiger” White by split decision.
The first high-profile match-up of Matyushenko’s career came in 2001, when the Belarusian fighter challenged then-UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz for the division title. After five rounds and 25 minutes of fighting, Matyushenko came up short against “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” in a unanimous decision.
From 2002 to 2008, Matyushenko went on an impressive run, winning 11 of his next 12 fights and earning the International Fight League’s light heavyweight title in 2007.
The fighter returned to the UFC in 2009, when he began a two-fight winning streak leading into a main-event loss against a young up-and-coming fighter named Jon Jones at UFC on Versus 2. Matyushenko would finish his second UFC tenure going 4-3 in that time, including a 20-second knockout of Jason Brilz at UFC 129 in front of more than 55,000 fans in Toronto.
Bellator signed Matyushenko following his departure from the UFC. He made a successful debut for the California-based promotion at Bellator 99 with a unanimous decision over Houston Alexander.
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