Victor Valimaki is Focused on Rising to the Top — Again!
When Victor Valimaki is “on” — when he’s been distraction-free and focused on fighting — boy, has he been dangerous.
Downright scary at times.
The man known to fans as “The Matrix” has won hard-fought decisions and has notched 12 combined stoppage victories — six knockouts and six submissions — since he made his pro debut at Maximum Fighting Championship I in Grande Prairie, Alta., in 2001.
It’s no coincidence that Valimaki went seven for seven — with six stoppages — in 2008 and 2009, the 32-year-old Edmonton product says.
“Anything negative that’s happened in my career has been, for the most part, my own doing,” says Valimaki, who’s slated to fight fellow light-heavyweight Sean O’Connell at MFC 39 in January.
“It’s been me, you know, hanging out with the wrong people, drinking too much, things like this. I’ve kind of sabatoged myself.
“For those seven wins, I didn’t do any of that. I just focused on fighting.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Valimaki says, a lack of focus — among other missing ingredients — has hurt him more than any opponent in the ring.
“Even the last slump I had was my own doing,” Valimaki says, referencing his three straight TKO losses in 2010. “Not training to the extent that I should train, going out nights and things like this.
“That stuff obviously isn’t conducive to a figher’s lifestyle,” he adds. “When I cut those things out of my life, I can be one of the best fighters in the world, I believe.
“But when you get distracted, that’s when you don’t.”
Valimaki doesn’t make any excuses for his occassional lapse in focus.
“There’s no excuse,” he says. “There are lots of instances of stress and drama in fighters’ lives where they don’t go over the rails, but I just let it affect me too much, I guess.
“I broke up with my fiance and I had a bunch of personal issues that I let affect me too much and then, you know, you start drinking and partying, things like that. Rather than in the gym, you’re hungover — and that’s a killer to a career right there.”
But the days of distraction are gone, Valimaki says, adding that he’s more focused on the task at hand — O’Connell, a winner in seven of eight since 2010 — than with any other past fight.
“It’s not often you get a second chance with something. I feel very fortunate that this happened,” Valimaki says, adding, “I have a second chance to prove that I can be one of the best guys in the world and I intend on taking full advantage of that.
“It’s a second chance,” he adds. “This is my chance to come out and show them that I wasn’t at the top of the game by fluke, you know what I mean? I’m coming back and I hope to impress people.”
Win, lose or draw, Valimaki says he has his sight set on putting on a show on fight night — “I’m going to put on a hell of a show,” he is quick to clairfy. But he has fight plans looking past January.
“I feel better now than I did at 25. Skill-wise, I feel like I’m getting better, my conditioning is coming back and I feel like I have more old-man strength than I used to,” Valimaki says, laughing.
“If I can stay healthy and keep on winning fights,” the man they call “The Matrix” adds. “I’m going until the tank runs out.”