After being knocked out by fellow Belarusian Andrei Arlovski more than three years ago, Vladimir Matyushenko's career seemed in peril. A veteran of more than a decade and half of fighting and wrestling, "The Janitor," then 32, appeared ready to turn in his mop.
However, the former light heavyweight UFC title challenger has not disappeared. Rather, the Southern California-based Matyushenko fought his way back to relevance after signing with the International Fight League's Tokyo Sabres, for whom the crafty veteran proved he can still withstand a rigorous schedule.
Now competing at 205-pounds and riding a six-fight winning streak, more than a few people have wondered how he might fare against some of the UFC's "new breed" like Michael Bisping, Rashad Evans or Forrest Griffin. But first he has a fight with another former "Ultimate Fighter" cast member when he faces Alex Schoenauer from season one in the IFL World Grand Prix on Nov. 3.
The "Legionarius" Diet
Italian light heavyweight Alessio Sakara, who is currently in Miami preparing for his Sept. 8 fight against American Houston Alexander, has recently discovered a very special type of diet. Since one of his sponsors is a large restaurant chain that specializes in buffalo meat, the 25-year-old "Legionarius" is enjoying buffalo four times a week.
The diet provides the perfect fuel for athletes, as buffalo meat has lots of proteins, iron, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Sakara, who is 2-2 in the UFC with wins over Canadian boxer Victor Valimaki and Australian grappler Elvis Sinosic, does not consume the buffalo by himself; he also enjoys cooking it for his coaches Edoardo Procorio and Dezeo Maura.
Martijn de Jong on farewell tour
Martijn de Jong is one of the true pioneers of Dutch MMA. "The Specialist" fought Masanori Suda, who would later go on to become SHOOTO champion, in Japan; brought Jose "Pelé" Landi-Jons, who was still on top of his game, to Holland to face him (the fight went the distance with de Jong losing a close decision); and also took on NHB legend Egan Inoue in his backyard in Hawaii.
The now 33-year-old fighter wants to call it quits and he wants to do it in style with one last grappling bout against Japan's Taro Obata.
The spectacle is set to take place on the first of two "Ultimate Glory" shows to celebrate his own and Shooto's 20-year-anniversary of Shooto (UG's parent organization) on Sept. 2 and Sept. 9.
Rupponen's path of trials and tribulations
Finland's Mikko Rupponen, one of the top five European fighters at light heavyweight, seemed poised for his PRIDE debut after he knocked out PRIDE veteran Hirotaka Yokoi in March. With the Japanese promotion closing up shop and selling their assets to longtime rivals Zuffa, the 29-year-old knockout artist from Espoo in Southern Finland is back to square one in his quest to finally land a "major" deal.
Bolstered by six wins out of his last seven fights, with the only loss coming to PRIDE veteran Rodney Faverus due to a broken hand, Rupponen has set his sights on the UFC now.
In order to impress matchmaker Joe Silva, the head coach of "Espoon Kehahäit" will take on the UFC-experienced Hawaiian Steve Byrnes in the main event of Fight Festival 22 on Sept. 22 at the Töölön Kisahalli in the country's capitol of Helsinki.
Also on the card are Rupponen's teammates Niko Puhakka and Atte Backman, Dutch Pancrase veteran Furdjel de Windt and undefeated Finnish submission specialist Marcus Vanttinen.
FX3 plans country-to-country comparison in November
FX3, one of many excellent shows in the UK behind "Cage Rage," has plans for an England vs. Germany country-to-country comparison for their third event of the year (sixth overall) at the John Nike Ice Rink in Bracknell, 60-km outside of London.
The promoters are working hard to secure some of the best German fighters and they have promised two title fights and a huge lineup with a total of 12 bouts on the card.
Already booked for the Nov. 24 show is one of the two title fights:
Andre Winner will put his FX3 title fight on the line against Germany's MMA pioneer Mario Stapel. Also scheduled to compete are Peter Angerer, Andre Balschmieter, Daniel Weichel and Franco "Ortega" de Leonardis for Germany and Nigel Whitear and Brian Adams for England. The Englishmen better be ready: At the last CageWarriors "UK vs. Germany" show in May 2006, the Germans emerged victorious 4-3.
Tim Leidecker covers mixed martial arts for Sherdog.com.