On Saturday night, on the main card of the UFC’s exciting stop in Norfolk, Virginia, former UFC heavyweight champion and long-time heavyweight contender Andrei Arlovski returned to the cage. The Belarusian legend’s opponent was rising Brazilian Junior Albini.
Given that Arlovski stepped into the cage on a career-worst five-fight losing streak, this was a pretty clear make-or-break fight for him. Luckily, the former champ was able to do what was needed, out-striking his foe to a sound unanimous decision win after three rounds of action.
In the wake of this win, Arlovski explained how it feels to have rebounded from his tough streak.
“Finally my hard work pays off and for the first time in a long, long time I stick to my game plan,” Arlovski told MMAjunkie after the fight. “It was not 100 percent, but 95 percent. I kept my hands up. Coach told me, ‘Don’t clinch,’ but I clinched a couple times. I’m very happy now.”
Arlovski, who recently relocated to American Top Team in Florida, went on to praise his young opponent, and leave his own future in the hands of UFC President Dana White and the UFC’s other decision-makers.
“I have a lot of respect for Junior,” Arlovski said. “I came after the fight to the medical room, and I wished him luck in his future fights. Respect. Tonight it wasn’t personal, it was just business. Tonight I think I needed it more than he does. Of course I look for the KO, but my coach said when I go out, and I just need to keep my hands up. I did this pretty well.”
“I want to go back home to my wife and my son, but I think I’ll be ready by February or March,” the heavyweight veteran continued. “Of course it’s up to Dana White and the UFC [what’s next]. 2016 sucks for me, beginning and middle of the year in 2017 was same thing. Finally I broke the streak of losing fights.”
Who do you want to see Andrei Arlovski fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/11/2017.