Saying Goodbye to the Janitor: How the MMA News Cycle Denied Vladimir Matyushenko His Due

Maybe the camo was too effective?

Maybe the camo was too effective? photo via legendashow

After a 17-year mma career, Vladimir Matyushenko still can’t get any respect.

The Janitor concluded his mma tenure by tapping out to Joey Beltran and ceremoniously leaving his gloves in the Bellator ring.  As a pioneer who has fought in the UFC, Bellator, the IFL and Affliction, Matushenko is well-respected by his peers, training partners, and former opponents.  While he may not have been a legend in the game, Matyushenko was a measuring stick for competition, whose resume boasts wins against Yuki Kondo, Antônio Rogério Nogueira, and Pedro Rizzo. Unfortunately for the Janitor, Mayushenko’s swan song and career retrospectives were sandwiched in between the calls for Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira’s retirement and the announcement of Ronda Rousey’s next opponent at UFC 175 late Friday evening.

Pundits spent the last three weeks contemplating the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of a Rousey/Carano match.  On April 9th, Rousey made a surprise cameo to the UFC 173 press conference and fielded Gina Carano questions. Gina Carano made the late night talk show circuit commenting on her fighting career. Even last week, the chatter about Carano’s meeting with Dana White left many mma gurus resigned to the fact that Rousey/Carano would be happening.  All the build-up was there.  Then on Friday, in the shadow of Fight Night 39 and in the wake of a Friday night Bellator card, the UFC announced Alexis Davis as Rousey’s next opponent.  Not to a bang, but to a whimper. Insert sad trombone music.  Davis may not have been the sexy pick, but she was the right pick. If only the announcement of Alex Davis had warranted as much coverage as Gina Carano.

The timing of the announcement was perfect from a PR perspective.  After all, Fridays are a great day to deliver bad news.  Someone needs to be fired?  Friday is the day to do it. Negative company news to release that could affect investing?  Friday is your day.  People are out and starting the weekend and less likely to be aware of the news anyway. It’s garbage day.  In the case of the Rousey/Davis announcement, the UFC hit the trifecta: fight analysts writing and filing their Fight Night 39 stories, the broadcast for the Bellator card, and the media prep for Bradley/Pacquiao.

The effect was just what the UFC hoped for. The announcement bridges the gap of coverage between UFC Fight Night 39 and the Ultimate Fighter: Nations finale, it kills the Carano story (thereby cutting off the “contender illegitimacy” talk) after generating a lot of buzz for all parties involved, and it takes the air out of the competition’s fight night.  Poor Bellator.  It couldn’t even keep its PR machine going past its own broadcast time despite the ridiculous announcement of Alexander Shlemenko challenging Tito Ortiz, proving that even in his own promotional backyard, Valddy can’t catch a break.

Three days removed from his last fight, and the Janitor is buried beneath the fallout from UFC Fight Night 39, Alexander Shlemenko calling out Tito Ortiz, Alex Davis named as Ronda Rousey’s next opponent, Manny Pacqiauo’s mother conjuring voodoo hexes, Chael Sonnen and Wnaderlei Silva’s onset fight on TUF, Chael Sonnen calling out Rich Franklin, and the press for this Wednesday’s Ultimate Fighter: Nations premier.  And just like that, Vladimir Matyushenko is once again the last one in the building.

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