Vladimir Matyushenko discovered wrestling by necessity. He had to defend himself, had to get stronger. Wrestling has never been a recreational activity for the man from Belarus. Growing up in the former Soviet Union was a struggle, and the young athlete viewed the sport as his ticket to a better life.
“I got [beaten up] in school a couple times, then said that was enough,” he recalls. By the time he was 15, the young Belarusian had moved out of his parents’ home into a specialized school for athletes.
Family and school lost their priority as wrestling dominated his focus and his training intensified to several hours daily. Before turning 18, Vladimir Matyushenko had already beaten two Olympic wrestlers — Dave Schultz and Kevin Jackson — in the same year.
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Vladimir Matyushenko eventually debuted in the cage in September 1997, easily beating three opponents in one night, employing upper-body MMA techniques in each fight (neck crank in the first; punches in the second two). “I got $5,000 and I didn’t get hurt,” he says of his first fight for the International Fighting Championships, “so it kind of got me addicted.”
The Belarusian’s love of — and proficiency in — the sport hasn’t waned in the 15 years since his professional debut, as evidenced by the number of MMA techniques he demonstrated during his visit to the Black Belt studio. He plowed through a series of MMA techniques, one leading into another. We decided to keep it simple and start at the beginning with his demonstration of taking a kick defense to a takedown in this exclusive MMA techniques video:
MMA TECHNIQUES VIDEO
Vladimir Matyushenko Demonstrates How to Go From Kick Defense to a Takedown
Vladimir Matyushenko's Quick Explanation of His MMA Techniques Video Demonstration of the Takedown
"When he kicks — [using a] low kick or high kick — you use normal-type technique," Vladimir Matyushenko explains. "So when he kicks, I block him [with] my foot. And I move my foot back so I'm ready to shoot. In order for him to strike again, he'll have to bring his foot back. But I'm not going to wait until he puts his foot down. I'm gonna go back with his foot and I'm already [in position].
"With a takedown, a lot of people make the mistake of driving forward without putting pressure [on their opponent]. You want to tilt over this leg, so you put pressure on it so [your opponent] can't jump on it and push forward."
As you push your opponent toward the ground, Vladimir Matyushenko explains, you have two choices: You can go with him to the ground, or you can keep standing and resituate on his side to launch a strike from above.
Vladimir Matyushenko Has a Long History of Experience With MMA Techniques
Building a 9-1 record in smaller MMA promotions, Vladimir Matyushenko debuted his formidable MMA techniques in the UFC at UFC 32: Showdown in the Meadowloands in New Jersey. He faced Yuki Kondo and won by unanimous decision, which opened up the opportunity to face Tito Ortiz for a light-heavyweight championship title shot — which he lost by unanimous decision. Other opponents during his first run with the UFC included Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Travis Wiuff, Pedro Rizzo and Andrei Arlovski.
Vladimir Matyushenko later went on to display his powerful MMA techniques in the International Fight League. Vladimir Matyushenko's defeat of Alex Schoenauer on November 3, 2007, made him the organization's first-ever light-heavyweight champion.
Returning to the UFC in 2009, Vladimir Matyushenko has faced Igor Pokrajac, Eliot Marshall, Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. In September 2012, he tore his Achilles tendon while training and had to pull out of a scheduled bout against Matt Hamill.
Vladimir Matyushenko faced Joey Beltran in April 2014 at Bellator 116. Despite winning the first two rounds, he lost the fight in the third round due to submission after winning the first two rounds. Following this loss, Vladimir Matyushenko retired from MMA competition.
More About Vladimir Matyushenko:
- Train With Vladimir Matyushenko in Person!
- Vladimir Matyushenko: Official UFC Profile Page
- Vladimir Matyushenko on Facebook
- Vladimir Matyushenko on Twitter