UFC veteran Vladimir Matyushenko is a rare breed. Sitting at 4-1 in his third run under the promotion's umbrella -- with the only loss coming to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones -- the 40-year-old feels no inclination to slow down.
Since dropping out of a scheduled bout against Alexander Gustafsson prior to UFC 133, many have wondered if the 15-year veteran's time may be drawing to a close. But now Matyushenko is on the precipice of recovery, and just one name weighs on his mind.
"We always wanted [Antonio] Rogerio Nogueira," explained Nima Safapour, a member of the Matyushenko's Alchemist Management team (via MMAWeekly.com). "It's a fight that makes sense for both guys."
The pair first fought in 2002 on Japan's 'UFO: Legend' card. Matyushenko emerged victorious and parlayed the success into a second run in the UFC.
The two met again seven years later at Affliction's ill-fated 'Day of Reckoning' card, but this time Nogueira emerged as the victor after knocking Matyushenko out cold with a brutal knee in the second round. Needless to say, the loss never sat well with the Belarusian.
"[Matyushenko] fought Rogerio and beat him decisively in their first bout. And despite the fact he beat him decisively, he granted him a rematch and Rogerio won the rematch fair and square with Vladimir having a very, very serious injury," Safapour said. "So, we want to fight the final chapter to that story."
Given the current landscape of the UFC's light heavyweight division, the matchup does make some semblance of sense. Both men have proven themselves capable of dusting the dregs of the division but have failed against upper-tier competition.
Nogueira also finds himself in nearly the same exact physical situation as Matyushenko -- recovering from an injury that left him out of UFC 133 -- thus placing the two fighters on similar timetables.
Regardless, Matyushenko has made it clear to the UFC brass that he intends to return before the end of the year. Whether he'll get his wish and be afforded an opportunity to create the ideal ending to his trilogy still remains to be seen.