Andrei Arlovski on UFC Fight Night: I still have fire in my eyes

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Andrei Arlovski on UFC Fight Night: I still have fire in my eyes
MMA star Andrei Arlovski in an online interview with the author

MANILA, Philippines – “I still have fire in my eyes.”

Until that flame is extinguished, 42-year old Andrei Arlovski intends to keep going.

“I am more hardworking now as compared to 20 years ago,” Arlovski told Philstar.com on the eve of UFC Fight Night 195 at the UFC Apex this Sunday, October 17 (7 a.m.) where he is a co-main eventer going up against 26-year-old Brazilian fighter Carlos Felipe (11-1-0).

Arlovski was once one of the top heavyweights or light heavyweights in the UFC until a spate of losses sent him tumbling down and damaging to his legacy.

Filipinos got their first look at him at One FC Pride of the Nation where he battled Tim Sylvia for an epic fourth time. That match ended in a “No Contest” as he brutalized Sylvia with soccer kicks to the head. 

Arlovski smiled at that memory.

“Yeah,” he initially said as his mind raced back all those years ago. 

At that time, he left the UFC to sample the assortment of alphabet soup fight outfits from Affliction, EliteXC, Strikeforce, ProElite, OneFC, World Series of Fighting and Friday Nights, after which he returned to the UFC. 

The knock on Arlovski is his career is one of streaks. When he wins, he puts on a win streak. When he talks a loss, he goes on a downward spiral.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit an unsuspecting world, Arlovski is 3-1. 

“One thing at a time,” he noted. “I am fighting a younger fighter who is hungry and dangerous.”

He noted of his friend Manny Pacquiao whose loss at age 42 to a younger Yordenis Ugas sent him into retirement. “I know,” he offered. “We just have to make sure we fight.”

The goal is to win and at an age when many fighters have transitioned into coaching or sports television commentary, Arlovski is hoping that he still has one more run in him “for one last title shot,” he said. 

The losses that have come fast and thick might have damaged his legacy as a top fighter. He is after all 31-20-0 with two No Contests.

He has built an impressive MMA resume; the UFC included. He has the most fights of a heavyweight, has one of the best takedown defense rates with 79% attempts defended. And he still lands an average of four strikes per minute today. That is impressive. 

He has eyes on the prize with also a glance towards his wife, Ludmilla, and son, Andrei who are in their home in Chicago, Illinois. 

“My health and my body are not what they once were, so I do a lot of conditioning and stamina training,” he said of what he worked on in training camp. “I do a lot of running, skip rope, and others. It is a one-hour drive to the gym where I train. When I do that, I remember why I am here and why I do this. I still have my dreams and I still have enough viciousness and power to do this. But it’s all one step at a time. That shows my dedication.”

“I am still here and I do what I love to do. I still have fire in my eyes and am ready to go. And I hope my fans in Manila — where I had a nice time and met many nice people — will cheer me on.”

Filipino MMA fans can tune into the Arlovski-Felipe match on UFC Fight Night: Ladd-Dumont (where Aspen Ladd and Norma Dumont battle in a women’s featherweight bout) on the Tap Go app. 

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