Andrey Arlovsky - Bared Teeth
Andrey Arlovsky - Bared Teeth

Six years ago, at UFC 51, Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky won the title of interim champion of the organization, but now he is in search of his lost gift.

Andrei Arlovsky does not go well with shades of gray. When the Belarusian forced Tim Silvia to surrender six years ago at UFC 51, thus winning the interim champion of the organization, he was in the middle of a winning streak of 6 fights, in which he defeated all his opponents in the first round. Life was wonderful. Knockouts followed one after another, fangs flashed, and Arlovskiy was generally regarded as one of the best heavyweights in the world.

However, then a series of defeats at the hands of Silvia followed, and since then the silver medalist of the World SAMBO Championships has been in search of his lost gift.

Recently, en route to the airport for a flight from Chicago to Albuquerque, where he went to study at the Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts - the third trip of its kind in his career - the veteran Affliction received a bitter reminder of his current status.

“My friend drove me to the airport and stopped at Starbucks,” he says. "A guy came up to me and said:" You are Arlovski … a good fighter."

And while the phrase was not meant to be an insult, the 32-year-old fighter took it differently.

“I was so annoyed because people used to tell me that I was shit or that I was the best, you know? And now it's just “a good fighter? I had either white or black; I don't need gray. All or nothing,”says Arlovsky. “I was very angry about this line. That's why I started to train hard when I arrived."

Arlovski hopes that the dedication in training will pay off as Saturday's Strikeforce / M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Silva at the Izod Center in East Rutherford (New Jersey) he will meet with Sergei Kharitonov. The bout will be one of the quarter-finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. And, although the eight fighters seeded in the tournament were not assigned numbers, it is clear without words that the ex-UFC champion will not be a favorite in the company of such fighters as Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett and the current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. …

His first fight against Kharitonov, apparently, is capable of bringing a lot of difficulties. The former Pride Fighting Championships fighter has had notable victories over the likes of Overeem, Werdum, Pedro Hizzo, Mike Russo, Semmy Schilt and Murilo "Ninja" Hua in his career.

“Without a doubt, he is a strong fighter,” says Arlovski. “Before this tournament, I had a promotional tour of New York. I was interviewed and during it they called me an underdog. No problem. Kharitonov has a heavy hand; he is tough. I should focus on his strengths and be ready for them."

Arlovski kicks off his Grand Prix performance with a streak of three defeats that challenged everything from his dedication to his jaw. Nevertheless, remembering each failure, he is able to point out the reasons that led to the failure.

In January 2009, when he lost by knockout to Emelianenko, the public was to blame.

“I saw that my blows were causing him damage, and for some reason I jumped because the audience started screaming,” recalls Pitbull Arlovsky. "It was cool when I hit the knee in a jump against Ben Rothwell on Affliction Banned, but that number didn't work with Emelianenko."

Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky
Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky

The result of a knee strike. When, 5 months later, at the Strikeforce Lawler vs. Shields Brett Rogers shocked him, beating TKO already in the 22nd second of the fight, he was torn between the cage and the boxing ring.

“Without a doubt, he knocked me out,” says Arlovski. “He's strong. He's dangerous. I was not focused on the fight, because my thoughts were on my debut in professional boxing. For which I paid."

In his last fight to date, against Antonio Silva, at the Strikeforce Heavy Artillery tournament in May, Pitbull did little offensively, but managed to withstand a few hard hits in the first round. Despite losing by unanimous decision, Arlovski believes he silenced at least those who questioned his ability to take a punch.

“He put a couple of good right hands in my jaw. I hope I made those who claimed to have a crystal jaw to shut up,”he says. "Although I lost that fight, I was quite happy because I saw some improvement and realized my mistakes."

During the Albuquerque phase of Arlovski's training, boxing coach Mike Winkeljohn focused on getting this talented drummer to use his speed as well as his strength. Training with light weights like Rashad Evans and John Jones has only added to the value of these training camps.

Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky
Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky

Both Winkeljon and Arlovski cited the 23-fight veteran's lack of attention, which is so necessary for continued success. When his mind is focused on performing in a cage, giving can be fruitful. Arlovski knocked out Roy Nelson before his current losing streak; to this day, this is the only time Big Country has been defeated by blows.

Arlovski looks adamant about his desire to return to the higher echelons of heavyweight MMA, however, he also shows an interest in both boxing and K-1.

Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky
Belarusian Andrei Arlovsky

Given that all three fighters responsible for his losing streak will compete in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Arlovski shouldn't be lacking in motivation.

“This is an unfinished business for me,” he says. “The tournament is a great opportunity, but everything has its time. First, I have to meet with Kharitonov, and we will see what happens after."

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