Former number one light heavyweight contender Vladimir Matyushenko will return to the Octagon after a six-year hiatus to take on Igor Pokrajac at UFC 103: "Franklin vs. Belfort" from the the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 19.
The promotion today announced the light heavyweight bout, finalizing its 13-fight card planned for the "Lone Star" state.
Back in Sept. 2001, Matyushenko challenged then light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz, at UFC 33: "Victory in Vegas," losing a five-round unanimous decision. "The Janitor" would rebound and mop up Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Travis Wiuff and Pedro Rizzo before sustaining a knockout loss to fellow Belarusian, Andrei Arlovski, at UFC 44: "Undisputed" in Sept. 2003.
He was cut lose by the promotion shortly after the loss, amassing a respectable record (3-1) during his tenure.
Matyushenko would go on to wreak havoc under the International Fight League (IFL) banner, winning six consecutive fights and earning the promotion's first-ever 205-pound belt with a unanimous decision win over Alex Schoenauer by unanimous decision to become the first ever light heavyweight champion in 2007.
The 38-year-old most recently scored a unanimous decision over Jason Lambert at "Call to Arms I" this past May. Matyushenko has won nine of 10 fights since the loss to Arlovski and will look to improve that tally when he takes on Igor Pokrajac.
Pokrajac is perhaps best known as the top sparring partner of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, who is scheduled to co-headline UFC 103 opposite Junior dos Santos. He's not just getting a UFC shot on that alone -- he is currently enjoying an eight-fight win streak.
He most recently toppled Kalvis Gebauers via technical knockout at WFC 8: "D-Day" in April 2009. Pokrajac has faced notable opponents such as Assuerio Silva and Mamed Khalidov, but came up empty on both attempts. It's safe to say that Matyushenko will be among his toughest tests to date.
UFC 103 will feature a new-look main event between Rich "Ace" Franklin and Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort at a 195-pound catchweight. Also slated for the main card is a heavyweight tilt between former PRIDE superstar Mirko Cro Cop and surging heavyweight prospect Junior Dos Santos.
In addition, Martin Kampmann will be out to put a "hit" on Mike Swick to determine the number one contender for Georges St. Pierre’s 170-pound title.
To check out the complete UFC 103: "Franklin vs. Belfort" fight card click here.