At a prototypical 6-foot-4, 240 lbs., Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski is considered to be one of the top heavyweight mixed-martial arts (MMA) fighters in the world. A perfect combination of size, power, speed and skill make him one of the most intimidating fighters on the planet. But despite his imposing stature in the ring, his quiet and personable demeanor outside of it is the complete opposite.
A career in MMA wasn’t Arlovski’s first choice as an occupation. At 16 in his native land of Minsk, Belarus, while attending the police academy, was when his interest in martial arts was sparked. “While in the academy, I studied the Russian martial art of Sambo and became a member of the national team,” he says. He was a natural at the Soviet-developed grappling/wresting style and went on to compete and win many Sambo tournaments and championships. Arlovski later developed his kickboxing and striking skills under the tutelage of former Soviet Union kickboxing champion Dmitry Stepanov. With his now mixed arsenal of skills, Arlovksi was ready to take the next step. “I had some success, and was approached and asked to try myself in MMA. I said, ‘Why not?’”
At the age of 20, Arlovski started his MMA career with a KO loss in his first professional fight at the Mix Fight M-1 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He would return and, eventually, become the M-1 MFC European Heavyweight Champion, setting the stage for a move to the UFC. The UFC would launch the Belarusian’s career in the burgeoning American MMA arena. Arlovski’s 14 fight stint with the UFC amassed an impressive 10-4 record with title defenses as the interim UFC Heavyweight Champion, and as the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion before eventually losing the title to Tim Sylvia, whom he originally defeated for the interim UFC Heavyweight title.
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Arlovski later left the UFC based on “a business decision” and is currently competing in the popular clothing line-turned-fight-promotions company Affliction. “Fighting is fighting, “ he describes. “It doesn’t matter which organization you are with. There were small changes that I had to make while fighting for Affliction, such as fighting in a ring instead of an octagon like in the UFC.” In January 2009, Arlovski fought in arguably the most highly anticipated bout of the year with World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) Heavyweight Champion, Fedor Emelianenko. Arlovski had early success against Emelianenko until he was caught and knocked out with a counter overhand right 3:14 into the first round. “I made a mistake and paid for it,” he says. “I wanted to do something flashy by doing the flying knee, and it didn’t go my way; I got caught with his punch. I should have stuck to my game plan, but I allowed my emotions to interfere with my game plan.”