by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy IFL)

At this past Friday’s IFL event in Houston, Texas, one of the seemingly most underrated fighters in MMA made his return in spectacular fashion when longtime veteran Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko of the Sabres defeated youngster Dwyane Compton of the Scorpions in just under two minutes.

The match-up proved that there’s still a lot left in the tank of Matyushenko and that he can be an essential piece to the Sabers’ rebuilding efforts in 2007, which saw them win their first team battle ever, defeating the Scorpions 3-2.

“I was pretty excited,” said Vladimir of his IFL debut. “It went very smoothly and I’m happy with my performance. I went in, made weight pretty easy, fought and arm barred the guy in under two minutes.”

As Matyushenko explains, things worked out perfectly for him in his first MMA action in a year, and his first major MMA appearance since UFC 44 nearly four years ago.

“I actually changed my mind [during the fight],” admitted Vladimir. “I wanted to knock the guy out, but he just kind of ducked down, I went on the back, flipped him over and went into the arm bar.”

“I really wanted to knock the guy out, but it actually worked out pretty good with the arm bar, I need to work on my submissions anyway,” continued Matyushenko with a chuckle.

Dwayne Compton wasn’t Vladimir’s intended opponent. Originally Mike Whitehead was going to make his Scorpions team debut at light-heavyweight, but was forced to sit out the event.

Even though he was unhappy with the change in opponent, Matyushenko is pleased with the IFL’s system of alternates, which assures fights and more importantly, paydays.

“In my mind I really didn’t want to fight the guy [Compton],” explained Vladimir. I don’t want to say nothing bad about him, but I think he’s at a lesser level than I am. All the credit to the IFL though, they have an alternate system like that and you know you’re going to fight for sure.”

Matyushenko added, “In this sport a lot of people get hurt, even little injuries like a cut, and you can’t even fight, that’s more disappointing than anything. I was supposed to fight a few guys and that happened. I trained for three or four months and didn’t fight, so this system works pretty good.”

As for his team’s performance, Vladimir is pleased, but feels they have more to improve upon and can be even tougher when they fight again in Los Angeles on March 17th against Marco Ruas’ Condors.

“We did pretty good, it could have been better,” commented Matyushenko. “[Kazuhiro] Hamanaka, our 185-pounder, didn’t have a chance to showcase his skills because he didn’t make weight and the guy that replaced him [Masaaki Izena], he fought hard and has some balls but he needs to work on his skills.”

“John Marsh could have definitely done better. He’s a Class 1 athlete and I think his mind just wasn’t there. Overall I was happy with the performance and I think it worked out pretty good,” further stated Vladimir.

Having fought in the sport professionally for 10 years now, Matyushenko has seen and done just about everything. He’s fought in smaller shows and headlined a UFC event in a championship match against Tito Ortiz.

So when it comes to how the sport has evolved over the last few years, Vladimir knows that we’ve come a long way, but there are still some bumps in the road.

“I think it’s evolved tremendously, but still has a ways to go,” exclaimed Matyushenko. “Overall the performance of the promoters has gotten better. The athletes were always there, but the promoters didn’t do especially a good job.”

“But now with the UFC, PRIDE and the IFL they’re better with the money. Some small shows still don’t pay all their fighters, so that needs to be worked on,” continued Vladimir.

Now that he’s back in major MMA with the IFL, Matyushenko has an opportunity to showcase his skills to a whole new group of fans. It’s an opportunity he’s pleased to have and he encourages everyone to check him out at an IFL live event or on television.

“I want to say thanks to: the fans, IFL, my coaches, all my sparring partners, Ken Vick at Velocity Sports Performance, my sponsor Howard’s Combat Kimonos and all the media guys like MMAWeekly,” said Vladimir. “My actions will speak more than words.”

“I’m back in and I want to show the fans a little bit of the old ‘Janitor’ and a little bit of the new ‘Janitor’. I have the submission skills, striking skills and right now I just want to show the whole thing and I think it will turn out great in the IFL,” concluded Matyushenko.