Andrei Arlovski returns to the octagon at UFC Vegas 13 in what will be his 33rd UFC fight. Split between two runs, that’s an impressive milestone.
More impressive, he’s been fighting a number of young up-and-comers of late. And holding his own, at age 41. This weekend will feature his youngest opponent yet: Tanner Boser is all of 29.
“He’s tough. He’s dangerous, young, hungry,” Arlovski (29-19, 2NC) said during the UFC Vegas 13 media day. Just don’t point out to the former heavyweight champ that the UFC might be trying to build Boser’s name up by pairing him with “The Pitbull.”
“F*ck everybody else that, they’re thinking about I’m here to help him get a victory or something,” exclaimed Arlovski. “In the heavyweight division, anything can happen. One punch can win a whole fight.”
Arlovski is aware that, in the ranks of the UFC, he’s in rare company at his age. “Not many UFC fighters over age 40 are still fighting. Me, Aleksei Oleinik, Yoel Romero, Anderson Silva fought last weekend,” he observed. “But listen, I have a great example: George Foreman. He became a world champion at age 46. So mark my words, for me, prime time is ahead of me, in the near future.”
If there’s a reason that Arlovski continues to be competitive at this point in his career, it’s likely because his priorities have changed. Essentially a complete change.
“I’m not drinking like I used to drink and I spend more time with my family, and that’s that’s pretty much my life,” the ex-champ explained. “I choose what’s more important for me and I’m sticking with my game plan. Because I still have some power in my body, I still have fire in my eyes. I know what I’m doing.”
As for whether he might have a hard time letting go when it does come time to retire, “it doesn’t matter what I think,” said Arlovski. Rather, it’s more about the feeling. If his body feels okay, Arlovski intends to fight — and bluntly, he said, “I don’t give a f*ck what somebody’s gonna say to me.” But if his body or health won’t let him, “of course I’m not going to fight.”
But keep in mind, as Andrei Arlovski also pointed out, “somebody said ‘Arlovski should retire’ back in 2009, when I lost four fights in a row.” He didn’t. Instead, at the urging of his manager, he underwent some medical tests, which cleared him to keep fighting. And then went on to prove his critics wrong, returning to the UFC for a second run that has now surpassed the first in terms of number of fights.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 13 virtual media day press scrum with Andrei Arlovski above. The card takes place Saturday, November 7 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.