When thinking of greatness in terms of combat sports competition, one must look at the many aspects of the status of being great. As one does this, it can often be tempting to try to determine who “the greatest of all time” is. This is effort is futile, considering there are so many aspects of greatness and there is an innumerable number of ways one may value each aspect of greatness. Considering this, there is no denying that longevity does play a role in greatness. Although perhaps not a leading factor (again, up for debate), there are few combatants who can say they have competed for twenty-two years—Andrei Arlovski, who fights this weekend at UFC 271, is one of those fighters.
A Glimpse at Andrei Arlovski’s Career
Making his debut in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on April 9th, 1999, a twenty-year-old Andrei Arlovski lost his first fight to Viacheslav Datsik via first-round knockout. Arlovski would return to competition exactly one year later to pick up wins over Michael Tielrooy and Roman Zentsov at M-1 MFC: European Championship 2000. After one more win, Arlovski would make his UFC debut at UFC 28 against Aaron Brink.
UFC Debut and Heavyweight Championship
After a shaky 1-2 start in the newly founded UFC promotion, Arlovski would string together three straight wins, knocking off Ian Freeman, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Wesley Correira. This winning streak would earn him a fight against Tim Sylvia, a man who had previously captured UFC gold. The bout, which was contested for the interim heavyweight title, would last less than a round as Arlovski would secure an achilles lock, forcing Sylvia to tap.
At UFC 53, “The Pitbull” would put away Justin Eilers and subsequently be promoted to undisputed heavyweight champion. Four months later, Arlovski would successfully defend his title for the first time against Paul Buentello but would go on to lose his heavyweight strap in his rematch to Tim Sylvia at UFC 59. The heavyweight rubber match would be held at UFC 61. Sylvia would best Arlovski in their 5-round fight, thus deterring Arlovski UFC gold.
After the title fight loss, Arlovski would put together three straight wins, knocking off Márcio Cruz, Fabricio Werdum, and Jake O’Brien. This would conclude his first UFC contract and Arlovski would depart from the organization.
Arlovski’s first fight out of the UFC would be contested under the promotion Affliction, defeating Ben Rothwell. In his next bout, Arlovski would earn a second-round knockout over Roy Nelson.
In his first fight of 2009, Arlovski would be bested by combat sports legend Fedor Emelianenko. Arlovski would then go on to join the promotion Strikeforce, losing his promotional debut to Brett Rogers. Arlovski would drop his next two bouts, forming a four-fight losing skid. With rumors of retirement, Arlovksi reassured his fans he would not retire, but instead reassess his MMA career with his newly acquired head coach Greg Jackson.
On the Right Track
On August 27, 2011, Arlovski would headline ProElite in Honolulu, Hawaii. Arlovksi would go on to earn a third-round TKO victory over his opponent Ray Lopez. In less than three months, Arlovski would return to action at ProElite 2, knocking out Travis Fulton via head kick.
Arlovski’s next fight would take place at One FC 5: Pride of a Nation against his rival Tim Sylvia. Their fourth meeting would come to an unfulfilling end, when the bout was waived off due to an illegal soccer kick landed by Arlovski. In the aftermath of the bout, ONE Championship would go on to change the rules regarding soccer kicks, and, if the newly adopted rules were enforced prior to the fight, Arlovski would have been awarded a TKO victory.
In his next five fights, Arlovski would drop but one loss to Anthony Johnson at WSOF 2. With this winning streak, Arlovski would return to UFC competition in 2014 at UFC 174.
Andrei Arlovski would defeat Brendan Schaub via split decision at UFC 174. Surging back to contender status, Arlovski would defeat Antônio “Bigfoot” Silva, Travis Browne, and Frank Mir in his next three fights. At UFC 195, Arlovski would share the Octagon with soon to be champion Stipe Miocic in a title eliminator fight. Miocic would catch Arlovski with a flurry of strikes causing Herb Dean to waive off the contest in round one.
After the loss, Arlovski would suffer four straight defeats to top contenders. Arlovski would pick up his first win in over two years at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis and would defeat Stefan Struve at UFC 222. At UFC 225, Arlovski would suffer a unanimous decision loss to Tai Tuivasa and would suffer another winless skid.
At UFC on ESPN 4, Arlovski would defeat Ben Rothwell for the second time. Arlovski would face the up-and-coming Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 244, suffering a first-round knockout loss. “The Pitbull” would fight a perfect 2020 defeating both Philipe Lins and Tanner Boser, certainly providing the roll of gatekeeper in the heavyweight division.
Tom Aspinall would get the best of the now 43-year-old Arlovski at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Lewis, but the 54-fight vet would bounce back into the win column by knocking off Chase Sherman and Carlos Felipe in his most recent fights.
This Saturday, Arlovski will face Jared Vanderaa on the preliminary card of UFC 271.
This article, nor any, will be able to sufficiently capture the career of Andrei Arlovski.
Having fought for nearly every major promotion, Arlovski has certainly made his presence felt throughout the mixed martial arts world and has stamped his place in the history books.
UFC Heavyweight Records
Most Fights (36)
Most Wins (21)
Most Decision Wins (10)
Total Fight Time (5:39:51)
Most Significant Strikes Landed (1272)
Total Strikes Landed (1546)
Embed from Getty Images