Turning 41 years old next month, Vladimir Matyushenko reigns as the old-school veteran you can't help but root for, using his solid wrestling and no-frills approach to stay competitive in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Alexander Gustaffson's lanky frame and notable submission mojo pose some interesting challenges, particularly if Matyushenko can't get it to the mat early. Gustaffson's stand up is better, and he figures to have improved off his knockout stoppage of Matt Hamill last August.
It's a fight at UFC 141, which takes place tonight (Dec. 30, 2011) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the winner moves into the middle tier of the promotion's packed light heavyweight division, while the loser faces uncertain career prospects ... especially if it's Matyushenko.
Follow me after the jump for a complete breakdown of the UFC 141 fight between Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson:The Breakdown
Gustafsson's looked increasingly like a complete fighter in recent outings, but Matyushenko's experience and good wrestling can negate that.
Essentially, Matyushenko only needs to win two rounds to earn a decision. And a couple takedowns to cement it aren't a lot to ask of him, even if his stand up never really developed despite his advanced age and experience.
Gustaffson must pick smart angles to strike him, mixing in kicks with punches and not being predictable in offering a leg or an opening to be shot on for a takedown. On the mat, "The Mauler" doesn't figure to score a submission unless he's softened Matyushenko with a big strike or relentless ground and pound, neither of which is likely since "The Janitor" is pretty resilient despite his limited stand up.
Gustafsson, has youth, striking and versatility on his side, which could make for some exciting moments, especially if he can hurt Matyushenko early and ofter.
However, I think Matyushenko has just enough wrestling and raw takedown ability to eek this one out. He'll survive a couple of scares and score takedowns en route to a decision win.
Vladimir Matyushenko via decision
Be sure to join MMAmania.com this evening for LIVE, detailed UFC 141 results of all the "Lesnar vs. Overeem" PPV action. It will include blow-by-blow coverage of the Facebook video stream, Spike TV "Prelims" bouts, and of course, the PPV broadcast. We'll start RIGHT HERE at around 7 p.m. ET and carry straight on through early Saturday morning.
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