When I heard that Affliction had booked Vladimir Matyushenko vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, I figured we were gonna be stuck watching 3 rounds of the Janitor scrubbing the mat with Nog. Nah … putting it like that sounds too exciting. I thought he was gonna lay and pray the entire fight.
But instead, we saw Vlad come to the ring with none other than Juanito Ibarra in tow. And all of a sudden, the one dimensional wrestler basically became a boxer. Instead of takedowns throughout the fight, he kept things on the feet and sparred away. Lil Nog was apparently expecting this to be a trap and largely stayed outside the pocket, poking away. That basically sums up round one, which was booed mightily as it drew to a close. On the plus side, there are now enough people in the crowd to pull off a half decent boo.
Round two went hot and cold … Vlad caught Nog upside the back of the head and then chased him around the ring, showing off some of his improved striking skills. But once Nog recovered, the fight slowed back down to molasses speed. In the end, it was Nog coming back with a flurry of punches and knees, finishing Vlad off with a brutal knee.
The fight went hot and cold … mostly cold. Nog looked tentative the whole time, probably expecting a shoot the second he started boxing with Matyushenko. Matyushenko just didn’t seem confident enough in his striking to really attack, which is too bad because it looked pretty good. All of a sudden, I’m pretty interested in seeing where he goes with this. Even though he lost, I think a Vlad that can strike as well as he wrestles could be a real force.
*Update* It looks like Ibarra is there for all the fights. Maybe he’s the cut man? So he probably isn’t Vlad’s coach now … but it fit so well and explained why Vladdy suddenly stopped being a compulsive shooter.