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Andrei Arlovski has seen ups and downs in his career. After showing life by defeating Junior Albini and Stefan Struve, he suffered two straight losses to Tai Tuivasa and Shamil Abdurakhimov. The Belarusian powerhouse will once again try to stave off calls for retirement when he faces Walt Harris at UFC 232.
Expect “The Pitbull” to come out growling on Dec. 29 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. As he tries to prove critics wrong, let’s look back at some of his career-defining moments.
1. Breakout PerformanceArlovski was only 20 years-old when he entered his first professional mixed martial arts competition. He started off on the wrong foot with a knockout loss in M-1 Global. Undeterred, he followed it up with three quick stoppages, giving reason for him to be signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Arlovski made his Octagon debut count, submitting Aaron Brink via armbar in under 60 seconds. On the strength of that breakout victory, he was pitted against veterans Ricco Rodriguez and Pedro Rizzo, both of whom he lost to.
2. Big Country, Big KOWhen Arlovski met Roy Nelson at EliteXC “Heat,” Big Country had never tasted a stoppage. The last reigning International Fight League champion had suffered only two losses in 15 fights, and both were by decision. But then he ran into a surging Arlovski, who was then on a four-fight winning streak with wins over Ben Rothwell and Fabricio Werdum. “The Pitbull” slowly broke down his opponent with some crisp striking. After buckling Nelson with an inside leg kick, he landed a solid combination that ended with a right hand, dropping him for good at 1:46 of round 2.
3. Exacting RevengeArlovski went toe to toe with Antonio Silva during their first encounter at Strikeforce “Heavy Artillery.” After their entertaining back-and-forth battle, Silva was awarded the unanimous decision victory. Their rematch happened at UFC Fight Night 51, and Arlovski made sure to come prepared. The result? A big right hand followed by hammerfists ended the night for Silva. The win earned Arlovski his first Performance of Night bonus.
4. Rare FourthNot many MMA rivalries can compare to that of Arlovski and Tim Sylvia in terms of number of matches fought. The two all-time greats met three times in the UFC, and their rivalry involved two stoppages and a switching of title. Their fourth bout happened in One Championship. This one, however, ended in a controversial no contest after Arlovski landed illegal soccer kicks.
5. Octagon ReturnAfter a six years absence, Arlovski returned to the Octagon against Brendan Schaub in a bout that was pivotal for both their careers. All three rounds were close, and no fighter was able to mount anything substantial to merit a clear victory. In the end, Arlovski was awarded the split decision win. He, however, made up for this lackluster performance by beating his next three assignments, which were all top-caliber opposition: Antonio Silva, Travis Browne and Frank Mir.
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