There was a time, before the Heavyweight division was chock full of muscle bound monsters, that a Belarusian fighter by the name of Andrei Arlovski was the talk of the town. “The Pitbull” dominated the Heavyweight division from 2002 – 2005 and excited fans with his brutal finishes. But since the UFC (and MMA in general) began to make a move into the mainstream, Arlovski has had a rough fall from grace. It’s unfortunate that many were not able to see Arlovski in his prime but perhaps the boxing tactician from Minsk will redeem himself at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery against Antonio Silva on May 15. Until then, let’s take a look at some of Arlovski’s most memorable and not so memorable moments during his extensive MMA career.
UFC 51: 2/5/05
Win Vs Tim Sylvia: Submission (Heel Hook) – 0:47 Rd 1
After a 2004 motorcycle accident sidelined Heavyweight champion Frank Mir and led to the creation of the interim title, it was decided that Andrei Arlovski and former heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia would battle at UFC 51 to determine the holder of the belt.
The 6’8” “Maine-iac” looked to be a huge mountain for Arlovski to climb, but the sambo master was more than up to the task. Even though he was outweighed by 25 pounds, Arlovski took the fight right to Mount Sylvia. With Mir, Goldie and Rogan discussing the difficulties with Sylvia’s size, Arlovski found the answer in his mighty right hand. As Sylvia waded in, Arlovski tossed a left hand and followed with a crushing right hand that chopped Sylvia down. Rather than attempt to pummel the big man, Arlovski scrambled for Sylvia’s right leg and locked in a tight heel hook that gave the former champ no choice but to tap out.
UFC 55: 10/7/05
Win Vs Paul Buentello: KO (Punch) – 0:15 Rd 1
If you blinked you missed it. The commentary team of Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo certainly did.
Paul Buentello had become a walking wrecking ball as he approached his fight with Arlovski for the Heavyweight title. He had finished off his past six opponents – five in the first round – and looked nearly unstoppable heading into the sure –to-be stand up brawl with Arlovski.
As Buentello rushed in at the opening bell, the champion shellacked him with a straight right hand that put “The Headhunter” to bed instantly. Buentello fell forward, only being held up by Arlovski’s back – which he was momentarily using as a futon to catch some much needed Z’s – before finally falling to the ground at the :15 mark of the first round. It happened so fast that the whole arena fell silent as Rogan asked “What happened?” before Arlovski jubilantly screamed in victory. The crowd booed lustfully at what transpired, perhaps thinking Buentello took a dive, until they saw the replay.
“People are yelling bullsh*t, but there’s no bullsh*t in that right hand,” Rogan said.
EliteXC: Heat: 10/4/08
Win Vs Roy Nelson: KO (Punch) 1:46 Rd 2
In Arlovski’s debut in the now defunct EliteXC, he was paired up with former IFL Heavyweight champion Roy Nelson after the Affiliction event pitting him against Josh Barnett was rescheduled. Nelson was on a five fight winning streak after losing to Ben Rothwell a year prior. Arlovski was fresh off of a third round KO of Rothwell and was in the midst of a four fight winning streak entering the cage.
Arlovski found himself in a bit of trouble early on as a failed takedown attempt left the big bellied fighter from Las Vegas on top of “The Pitbull.” The jiujitsu brown belt kept Arlovski fighting off one arm lock after another before referee Jorge Ortiz stood them back up. As the two exchanged strikes toward the end of the first, “Big Country” seemed to be tiring rather quickly.
A minute into the second, the Belarusian landed a straight right hand and a left head kick that rocked Nelson. Arlovski would then go to work as he followed an inside leg kick with a nasty uppercut and a straight right hand that sent Nelson crashing to the mat. It would be the first and only time that Nelson has been knocked out.
UFC 59: 4/15/06
Loss Vs Tim Sylvia: TKO (Strikes) 2:43 Rd 1
When Sylvia and Arlovski met for a second time at UFC 59 in Anaheim, Ca, it didn’t appear that too much had changed since their first meeting 14 months previous. Arlovski had wiped out both Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello with first round KOs while Sylvia had bounced back from his loss with three consecutive wins. Sylvia, however, seemed to be more focused than their first meeting. He was in great shape and wanted to prove that “The Pitbull” wasn’t the indestructible fighter that he appeared to be.
Many figured that in order for Sylvia to have a chance against Arlovski, he would have to drag the fight to the ground where the Belarusian spent very little time during his UFC tenure. A clean shaven Arlovski entered the cage, and perhaps he needed his beard to protect his glass jaw on this night.
Arlovski started off showcasing his impressive boxing skills as he plucked away at “The Maine-iac” with jabs and hooks to the head and body. It looked like we were about to have an instant replay of the first meeting when a two punch combination – nearly a carbon copy of their first meeting –sent Sylvia crumbling to the canvas. But this time, Sylvia wouldn’t allow Arlovski to lock in a heel hook as he scrambled back to his feet immediately. Still shaking off the cobwebs, Sylvia would catch the reckless Belerusian coming in with a short right hand and sent him face first to the mat. Sylvia wasted no time pouncing on his fallen prey and pounding him with right hands until Herb Dean came to the rescue.
Affliction: Day Of Reckoning: 1/24/09
Loss Vs Fedor Emelianenko: KO (Punch) – 3:14 Rd 1
When Andre Arlovski jumped up in the air, it was Saturday and he was probably thinking about how well his performance had been to that point against Fedor Emelianenko. When he crash landed, it was Monday and the arena was empty.
The two finally met in January of 2009 – after their original October date was rescheduled – and many thought “The Pitbull” had a great chance at usurping “The Last Emperor” at Affliction’s much anticipated pay per view. The highly regarded standup of Arlovski appeared to be the perfect antidote for the WAMMA heavyweight champion’s sick ground game. Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach also helped him get ready for one of the biggest fights of his life. Arlovski also had a height and weight advantage heading into the fight. But there’s a reason Fedor is regarded as the best heavyweight ever in MMA.
Arlovski had been pitching a beauty of a game for the first three minutes of the fight. He kept Emelianenko off balance with his blend of leg kicks and punches. A two punch combination seemed to rattle Fedor and a front kick by Arlovski sent the Affliction champ into the corner. But just like the Sylvia fight, Arlovski made the mistake of rushing in and paid for it dearly. “The Pitbull” was looking to close the show and went for a flying knee. Fedor saw it coming and uncorked a short right hook that separated Arlovski’s soul from his body as his carcass fell from the sky like the Hindenburg.
Arlovski is still trying to figure out what happened on that fateful January evening.
Strikeforce: Lawler Vs Shields: 6/6/09
Loss Vs Brett Rogers: TKO (Punch) – :22 Rd 1
For all of the swift thrashings that Arlovski has handed out over the years, he was certainly due for one when he stepped into the cage against the then-unbeaten Brett Rogers. It was Rogers’ most difficult test to date, but apparently that only incensed the Team Bison fighter to tear apart “The Pitbull” in only a matter of seconds.
With Arlovski busy feeling Rogers out, he lazily shot a left inside leg kick in the direction of “The Grim.” Before Arlovski could figure out what happened, Rogers mugged him with a flurry of strikes filled with bad intentions. A menacing left hook, followed by an equally brutally right hook turned off the lights for Arlovski in only a matter of seconds.