UFC San Antonio: Andrei Arlovski, Nineteen Years After UFC Debut, Still Has Passion to Fight

With perfect seriousness, Andrei Arlovski still believes he can become UFC heavyweight champion again some day, he has revealed ahead of UFC San Antonio.

San Antonio, TX — It’s media day ahead of UFC San Antonio. The main event features an “old dog,” Rafael Dos Anjos, fighting an up-and-comer in Leon Edwards. If ex-lightweight champ RDA is an old dog, however, what does that make Andrei Arlovski?

The former UFC heavyweight champion debuted nearly nineteen years ago in the big show. Now 40, he started his career in M-1 in 1999. Four fights later, he signed with the UFC. If you want to know why he’s still going, “it’s my job,” Arlovski said at Thursday’s media day, with Cageside Press and other media outlets in attendance. More accurately, “it’s my passion.”

“First of all, this might sound stupid or not, I want to be champion again,” Arlovski elaborated. “That’s why I’m in the camp, every day I wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning, stick to my game plan, stick to my schedule. It’s what I like to do.”

Critics will no doubt cry foul over Arlovski’s title hopes. After all, he hasn’t won a fight in over a year. “They might say ‘he’s old, there’s no f*cking way he’s going to be champion again,’ but trust me, I’ll do everything possible to achieve my goal.” And Arlovski has been here before, on lengthy losing streaks, only to defy the odds and bounce back.

Does he remember that debut? It was UFC 28, against Aaron Brink. “November 16,” he recalled. A quick check of the record shows November 17, but we’ll give him that one. It’s not as if it was yesterday. “I was 21, at that time I was the youngest UFC fighter.”

Today, it seems like there’s a new youngest UFC fighter every other month. Did he ever think he’d be one of the oldest?

“I’m not the oldest, come on! We have Olenik here!” Arlovski joked. Aleksei Oleinik has a couple of years on him. “I’m one of the oldest ones, but definitely I still have fire in my eyes.”

So how has today’s Arlovski, who will fight Big Ben Rothwell at UFC San Antonio, changed over the years? “I became, I guess, more a smarter fighter,” he answered. “The skills are the same.” Though, he pointed out, he can’t do what he did 20 years ago. So it’s fighting and training smarter.

The fight with Rothwell is a rematch of their Afflication bout from 2008. Rothwell is another old-timer. Most of the heavyweight division is. Given he’s already bested Big Ben, it’s questionable whether there was a need for a rematch, but when you fight long enough at heavyweight, the same names pop up. Besides, “I never say no to the UFC. I never pick my opponents.”

Like Arlovski, Rothwell has changed as a fighter no doubt, though Arlovski struggled to put his finger on exactly how. “I don’t know. I don’t know. But I guess he’s become a smarter fighter, stronger fighter, he’s has a great fighting spirit, so we’ll see.”

One thing he’ll be looking to do is avoid the judges. “Of course I try to finish fights all the time,” he said, singling out what he feels are “corrupt” judges in Chicago, where he lost an iffy decision to Tai Tuivasa. “My opinion, other people’s opinion, they think I was robbed like last three fights, that’s why I don’t want to leave it up to the judges.”

Watch the full UFC San Antonio media day press scrum with Andrei Arlovski above!