Vladimir Matyushenko’s Ready to Welcome Back Matt Hamill: “Everybody’s Coming Out of Retirement These Days”
Although Vladimir Matyushenko had been hoping to delay the retirement of Tito Ortiz by rematching the former champion, instead, he has been assigned the task of welcoming back a fellow vet to the Octagon. When it was announced that UFC newcomer Roger Hollett could no longer face Matt Hamill in his first fight back from retirement, the promotion came calling on Matyushenko for the UFC 152 bout.
“I think everybody’s coming out of retirement these days,” said Matyushenko, when asked if he was surprised to find out that the 35 year-old Hamill had decided to return to fighting. “I don’t think he was just sitting around doing nothing though; I’m pretty sure he was training.”
Hamilll surprised many when he announced he was leaving the sport, following a stoppage loss to Alexander Gustaffson at UFC 133 in August, 2011. Although the loss followed a unanimous decision defeat to “Rampage” Jackson in May, 2011, prior to the setbacks, Hamill had won five straight.
“No, some people do it; BJ Penn did it and he came back,” said Matyushenko, when asked if he was surprised by Hamill’s decision to retire. “A few guys retired and came back; I did it too. Then instead of sitting around you continue to train with guys that are still fighting and you’re kicking their butt. You tell yourself you might as well be fighting.”
“This game can be frustrating, you can get burnt out that’s for sure,” Matyushenko added. “That’s why even me, I took time off and then you come back.”
Interestingly, Matyushenko (26-6) is also coming off a loss to Gustafsson, which took place at UFC 141 last December. As a result, when the 41 year-old meets Hamill (10-4) on September 22nd in Toronto, neither man will have competed in quite some time.
“One year break; I don’t like it either personally, but it happens especially when you have injuries and stuff like that,” Matyushenko told Full Contact Fighter. “So I don’t think it’s a big factor. He’s younger than me so I think it should be fun.”
“I was starting to get bored,” Matyushenko added. “I just decided ‘you know what, I’m going to take a fight,’ and I’m excited to fight in Toronto too.”
Of course, both Hamill and Matyushenko are decorated wrestlers who are capable of ending fights with their striking games. Prior to facing Gustafsson, Matyushenko KO’d fellow wrestler Jason Brilz in under 30 seconds, while Hamill is well remembered for his headkick stoppage of middleweight contender Mark Munoz.
“I’ve watched a lot of his fights and he likes to stand,” said Matyushenko. “He’s not always capable of capitalizing on that with Rampage and especially Gustafsson, because Gustafsson has a long reach and he’s hard to reach, and shoot on him. So, I think he’s going to try to wrestle, but then again, it’s not just wrestling, it’s MMA. Whoever’s best at putting everything together is the better fighter.”
Although Ortiz has offered no indication that he may return to the Octagon, following his unanimous decision loss to Forrest Griffin in July, Matyushenko is holding out hope that the bout may still materialize. After all, as he noted, Hamill is but the latest man to come out of retirement.
“You can say you’re retired and then things change and you come back. Tito may say he’s retired but he may come back too. That’s why I like Matt Hughes’ approach; ‘I’ll let the UFC put me on the shelf and when I’m ready I can come back’, it’s not 100 % retirement. You can train and be available.”
“It’s also for the fans to decide too. If you’re still marketable and people want to see you, then that also helps decide when you’re retired.”