16 Sep Andrei Arlovski Shakes Up UFC Heavyweight Rankings After Decimating Antonio Silva
If I have told you Saturday night Andrei Arlovski would once again be a Heavyweight title contender, you might have said I’m losing my marbles. But after a totally dominating performance against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC Fight Night 51, that completely insane notion has indeed come to fruition.
Arlovski picked apart the hulking Brazilian with sniper-like accuracy, knocking out “Bigfoot” in just under 3 minutes with a couple of big right hands and a slew of hammer fists on his downed opponent. Although ring rust could possible have contributed to Silva’s demise, Arlovski is the crisper, faster, and virtually stronger fighter since the opening bell sounded. Silva was the overwhelming favorite coming into the bout (-450 to Arlovski’s +350), but as Arlovski showed his youthful form, “Bigfoot” had no chance even if the event was happening in the latter’s own backyard.
The UFC apparently took notice.
In the latest divisional rankings, the Belarussian slugger leapfrogged seven places from his previous spot and now firmly planted at #7. (Silva was previously at #5 and has since dropped five places to #10). A couple of victories against anyone at the top 5 could possibly be enough to land Arlovski the next crack at the gold, which is practically unthinkable going back to as late as last Saturday.
Arlovski’s talent was never in question and his earlier run at the top of the Heavyweight division is a testament to his natural gifts. But after getting knocked out in three of his four fights spanning two years (January 2009- February 2011), it was clear “The Pit Bull” is nowhere near the form he once flashed.
However, he continued, he endured, he persevered and despite the occasional lackluster showing (a decision loss to Anthony Johnson at WSOF 2), Arlovski is currently riding an impressive wave of victories (8-1-1 NC), including a couple since his last go-around with MMA’s top promotion.
After the fight, Arlovski was gracious enough to acknowledge the people working behind the scenes.
“They pushed me hard,” Arlovski said after Saturday’s event, referring to Greg Jackson and John Winklejohn. “I just realize that I still have a lot of work and I think when I come back in the gym, Greg is going to give me more instructions.”
“The gameplan was for even one second, don’t stand in one place. I was supposed to move all the time.”
The blueprint absolutely worked wonders for the former UFC Heavyweight champion but his renaissance of sorts couldn’t have come at a better time. The UFC needed a bankable old-school star in tow and with Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem losing some of their luster, Arlovski could come in and fill the void.
Make no mistake about it, I am not about to over-hype the man and say he can beat current kingpin Cain Velasquez. Velasquez, in my opinion, is THE baddest man on the planet and if Arlovski was a +450 against “Bigfoot”, he should be like a +3000 facing Cain.
Still, it makes for an interesting story line to say the least. Here’s this guy Arlovski, nine years removed from being UFC champion, been to hell and back trying to reclaim old glory against possibly one of the best heavyweights ever. Everybody loves a Rocky story, and that’s what he should push for.
Whether he will win or not is beside the point. No one can beat Cain Velasquez right now, no, not in his physical prime. But put Andrei Arlovski in the Octagon with him and he’s already a winner.
Again, it’s not about wearing the gold once again around his waste. It’s about linking the bridge between two different MMA eras, and seldom do we see an “old” man good enough to do just that. Either way, underdogs will always be loved and fans have come to accept that stories sometimes doesn’t have a happy ending.
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