Three years ago, UFC light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko trained at his El Segundo, Calif. gym, preparing to fight Jon Jones. The questioned surrounding "The Janitor" then asked how much he had left at 39 years old.
Now 42, the question still remains as he prepares to fight Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 6 on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Chicago.
Despite being 13 years older than his opponent, the secret to winning, Matyushenko said, breaks down to who has the most testicular fortitude between the two of them on fight night.
"Whoever wins will have the bigger balls and will be in better shape," the fighter recently told Yahoo! CN.
Matyushenko now trains north of El Segundo in Santa Monica with longtime training partner and former UFC heavyweight Antoni Hardonk. The two ready for the Chicago bout with Bader in a way different than what Matyushenko was used to in his earlier years. Nowadays, training smarter is key.
It's not about slowing down, Matyushenko said, as much as it is being more selective with the way he approaches his training. Heavy sparring, however, still makes the ageless 205-pounder sore, he admitted. Luckily, he's used to it at this point in time.
"It's nothing new," he said. "It's never been easy."
The slowed pace of training makes it a little more fun, Matyushenko added. It's given him an opportunity to be more relaxed, and his wife a chance to give him a hug without dealing with a grumpy Vladdy.
"I come home and my wife wants to give me a hug and I'm like, 'you know, don't touch me,'" Matyushenko said, jokingly. "Your body's been punched so many times that [you want to be left alone]."
But the veteran won't hold back on the grumpiness once he meets Bader on Saturday. In breaking down his opposition, Matyushenko said the Arizona State wrestler is very dangerous, and his striking is getting better and better with every fight. Clearly, Matyushenko has a lot of respect for his UFC on FOX foe, but he said that there are holes in Bader's game. Much like he did with 26 of his previous opponents, Matyushenko will look to take advantage of the weaknesses for the win.
"He's obviously a good wrestler, but he has some holes like everybody else does," he said. "My job is to be in the best shape of my life and utilize those holes to my advantage."
It's been almost 16 years since The Janitor first started mopping floors in MMA. Throughout that time, he said he wasn't sure where MMA would take him. Not event UFC president Dana White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva knew where the sport would go at one point, Matyushenko said. But all three can agree that they took their chances -- White and Silva promoting, and Matyushenko competing -- and it's all paid off.
For Matyushenko, only time will tell where he goes from this point. UFC on FOX 6 will provide a firm indication as to where the 42-year-young fighter will go next.
"This fight is going to show where I'm standing as far as my career goes," he said.