Former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski made only one mistake in his January 2009 bout with pound-for-pound legend Fedor Emelianenko. Unfortunately for Arlovski, that mistake put him flat on his back and out cold in the ring.
He took five months off before stepping back into the cage against Strikeforce heavyweight contender Brett Rogers. Rogers was known as a vicious striker, hungry and looking to make a name for himself. And so he did, flooring Arlovski in just 22 seconds with a huge knockout.
“My mind was on a rematch with Fedor,” Arlovski said. “I looked past Rogers.”
It’s been nearly 11 months since Arlovski’s last fight, and he’s come to grips with the two knockouts that have knocked him from the elite level of heavyweights.
Arlovski has a chance to redeem himself Saturday night when he fights Antonio Silva, the former Elite XC Heavyweight Champion at Strikeforce St. Louis.
“I’m focused on Big Foot,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough fight.”
His first line of business in preparing for this fight was clearing his head of all previous distractions and making sure that his training was up to par.
To make sure he was mentally prepared, he visited a sports psychologist and made changes in his personal life, including finding a new girlfriend who he said was more supportive of the lifestyle of a professional fighter and not so much worried about traveling around with him when he needed to train.
Arlovski also switched up training camp. The Belarusian fighter had been based strictly out of Chicago for many years, but took time to train with other camps while preparing for Silva.
Besides working on his ground game in Chicago, which he mentioned as important because of Silva’s black belt in jiui-jitsu, Arlovski also spent two weeks in Albuquerque with Greg Jackson’s team. He spent another two weeks in San Jose with the American Kickboxing Academy, where he trained along side other top heavyweights including Cain Velasquez.
Saturday night will be a crucial point in Arlovski’s career, especially if he still wants another crack at Fedor. But for now he’s only looking at the man placed directly in front of him.
“I can’t wait to fight again,” he said. “I’m excited after having lost the last two fights. Everything happens for a reason. I ’m a better fighter now.”
(M-1 Global photo of Arlovski)