There’s a heavyweight battle at UFC Fight Night 111: Holm vs. Correia this weekend that feels like it should be getting more attention than it is.
Saturday at UFC Singapore, Andrei Arlovski will make his walk down to the UFC octagon for what may very well be the last time. Entering the night on four straight losses, he was too big a name for the UFC, deprived of it is of stars, to cut to this point. A fifth loss, however, will likely spell his exit from the promotion.
Of course, having his career questioned is nothing new for “The Pitbull.” From 2009 to 2011, Arlovski (25–14 (1)) went on a similar four fight skid, one that started off with the infamous loss to Fedor Emelianenko. Then Brett Rogers, Bigfoot Silva, and Sergei Kharitonov followed suit. Most wrote Arlovski off then, questioning his chin, and place in a sport that seemed to have passed him by. Surprising many, he redesigned, rebuilt, thanks in large part to moving to the famed Jackson-Winklejohn camp in New Mexico. Yet it feels as if Arlovski, now thirty-eight years old, has cheated the MMA gods once before.
Is there much chance of him doing it a second time?
After returning to the UFC (he had famously walked away, jumping to Affliction for that Fedor fight) in 2014 following his rebuilding period, he also went on one of the most impressive comeback streaks in recent heavyweight memory. In his first four fights back in the promotion where has was once heavyweight champion, Arlovski picked up wins over Brendan Schaub, Bigfoot Silva (avenging that earlier loss), Travis Browne, and Frank Mir. The Browne fight two years ago, in particular, put him back in the title hunt and at the top of the division.
Then came this second four fight skid. Yes, those losses have come to the best of the best. Stipe Miocic, who would go on to become champion. Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Francis Ngannou — no one will ever accuse Arlovski of facing lesser competition.
That every one of those fights ended in a loss, every one of them in a finish, is the issue. If Arlovski can’t win against the best in the division, is there any point in him continuing on? There’s no need for the ex-champ to coast along, fighting lower ranked fighters having already proven himself as a top-tier fighter.
Which means Andrei Arlovski’s fight Saturday against Marcin Tybura at UFC Singapore will be telling. Tybura is a solid talent, but he’s not yet top ten talent. He’ll be looking to use Arlovski as a stepping stone to get there. Despite the losses piling up, Arlovski himself remains ranked eighth in the UFC heavyweight division. Yet with a loss, it’s time to hang ’em up, with nothing to prove.
That much is obvious, and far too many op-eds try to tell fighters when to retire (often to be caught off guard by comebacks similar to Arlovski’s own). Here’s the twist: unless Arlovski looks like a rejuvenated fighter with a bag full of new tricks at UFC Fight Night 111, he should probably call it a day either way. After all, a win Saturday does little for him in the long run.
With nothing left to prove, and no obvious path to the title, what more is there left to achieve for Andrei Arlovski? Unless he’s badly in need of the money, in which case, Bellator MMA would likely welcome him with open arms to their ambassador program.
The clock is ticking for the Pitbull. Here’s to hoping he beats it to the finish line, rather than father time passing him by in the sport, if it hasn’t already.