UFC 303: Andrei Arlovski Loses Grinding Decision to Martin Buday

Andrei Arlovski and Martin Buday, UFC 303
Andrei Arlovski and Martin Buday, UFC 303 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

The most seasoned heavyweight veteran in the UFC took to the octagon for the 42nd time in his 60th fight overall on Saturday, as Andrei Arlovski faced Martin Buday on the UFC 303 prelims.

Arlovski, a former champ and future UFC Hall of Famer, had reinvented himself late in his career, working with Jackson-Wink MMA to employ a more technical, less brawl-heavy style, extending his longevity as a result.

Early on, the pair grappled along the cage, Buday putting his weight on “The Pitbull.” Some heavy punches to Arlovski’s side were landing, but nothing that was doing any serious damage. What Buday was doing, however, was sapping the weight of Arlovski, who occasionally came off the cage, only to be driven right back to it. The entirety of the opening round played out in this fashion, with the fight feeling as if it hadn’t even kicked off yet.

Arlovski fired a kick up high early in the second, but soon enough Buday had him backed up, firing an uppercut and forcing the former champ to circle out. This time, it was Arlovski putting Buday on the fence, with both men firing knees. Back at center, Arlovski fired a leg kick, and Buday answered with a left hand. A clinch at center led to a battle for head position, with Arlovski finally putting Buday up against the cage again. Buday tried to reverse, only to be blocked; Arlovski fired a knee.

Headed back to center again, Arlovski doubled up his jab. Things opened up just a bit, with Buday landing a right; Arlovski again put the younger man on the fence, to the displeasure of the crowd. The ref, finally having seen enough, restarted the action with 30 seconds left in the round; Arlovski got a little busier, in a better round for 45-year old.

Between rounds, Andrei Arlovski’s corner told him to go hard and give it everything in the final frame of a fight that could very well have been one round apiece to that point. In the opening seconds of round three, Arlovski connected with a low kick. His jab pushed Buday back. Buday re-engaged, but had to contend with that jab again. Buday landed a jab of his own, and ate a knee as they clinched up. Still clinched up at center, Buday got busy with punches and knees.

Taking things back to where he’d found success in round two, Arlovski put Buday on the fence. This time, Arlovski ate a low blow, forcing him to his knees while the ref paused to fight to allow him to recover. About 90 seconds later, he was ready to continue, with the two starting with a little more energy behind them. Buday landed an uppercut, they clinched, and while Martin Buday had Arlovski on the fence, the vet was able to reverse. Arlovski threw a knee, Buday a shoulder strike. Again, within seconds, ref Mark Smith restarted the action. That allowed Buday to get some offense going, but it was Arlovski getting the best reaction of the night from the crowd with a spinning back fist that was on-target, but blocked.

Arlovski appeared to look for a trip in a clinch in the final minute, but couldn’t land it. Instead, he drove Buday into the cage again, firing a weak spinning back kick ahead of the final bell.

On the scorecards, Buday would take a split decision. And if there was any thought of Andrei Arlovski hanging up the gloves, it didn’t happen, at least not in the cage, as he made his exit without laying down the gloves.

Official Result: Martin Buday def. Andrei Arlovski by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)