Andrei Arlovski is out to prove that an old dog – or “Pitbull” in this case – can learn new tricks.
This past Saturday’s UFC Vegas 13 co-main event marked Arlovski’s 33rd UFC appearance, a promotional record for heavyweights and a number that trails only Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone (both with 36) for the most in UFC history overall (featherweight Jeremy Stephens also has 33). And yet, even at this stage of his career, Arlovski found a way to outpoint 29-year-old Tanner Boser to win his second straight fight and third in his past four outings.
Suffice to say, Arlovski looks like a relatively new man compared to the fighter that won just two fights from January 2016 to April 2019, and he credits the transformation to keeping things as simple as possible.
“As a fighter, from my fighting experience a problem for me was I never too much stick with my game plan,” Arlovski said at the evening’s post-fight press conference. “Sometimes I was a little bit—not cocky, but not so nice, you know?
“Thank God, as I said, the second fight in a row I stick with my game plan and I have a great team, great coaches, sparring partners, everything great, knock on wood. I’m like Nike, ‘Just Do It.’”
Arlovski credits his turnaround to becoming a more responsible person, father, and husband. He has two children waiting for him at home and calls them “his biggest motivation.” He also gives plenty of gratitude to his wife for allowing him to do what he does for a living.
This shuffling of priorities hasn’t just helped applied to Arlovski’s personal life, but also to how he approaches fights. While he was once fixated on providing the kind of entertainment that his employers demanded, the past few years have seen Arlovski focus on one thing: winning.
“Because every time after weigh-ins, Dana White and the fighters meet and go, ‘$50,000 bonus for this, for that’ and I in my head, ‘F*ck, I want to make another $50,000,’” Arlovski said. “But you know what, it’s better step-by-step. Just better get yours because you can lose everything and it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get a bonus. So I have to stick with my game plan. I feel great. I feel healthy and just step-by-step.”
The results haven’t always been pretty for Arlovski, a former UFC champion who hasn’t finished an opponent in over five years. But he’s also shared the cage with just about every big name heavyweight to pass through the UFC.
While he didn’t call anyone out on Saturday, Arlovski trusts the matchmakers to keep sending him contracts next year. When the time comes to make that walk again, he doesn’t plan to change his current strategy.
“I can understand if to the commentators and Dana White, sometimes it might be boring,” Arlovski said. “Today, first round, probably half a round, three minutes we stay in front of each other. But listen, in heavyweight division, one punch you can win three rounds or one punch that’s it, lights out, fight over.
“Like I said, I have to be smart. Plus, I’m 41 years old. I’m not a 20-year-old kid so I need to use my brains more often.”