Heading Into WSOF 2, Andrei Arlovski Credits Greg Jackson For Career Turnaround: “I Still Have A Lot Of Years To Fight”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Around this time two years ago, there was no shortage of calls from pundits and fans alike, for Andrei Arlovski to retire. The former UFC champion had recently been eliminated from Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand-Prix by Sergei Kharitonov, who brutally knocked Arlovski out in the fight’s opening round. In addition, the defeat was Arlovski’s fourth in a row, and three of those had come via KO or TKO. The fighter’s future in the sport was very much in doubt.
Since then, however, Arlovski has gone undefeated in five straight fights, and is set to face Anthony Johnson in the main event of this Saturday’s World Series of Fighting event. While some critics point to the fact that the 34 year-old vet hasn’t been fighting top ranked heavyweights during the run, Arlovski has at least demonstrated that he’s still a productive and relevant fighter that fans want to watch. So, who does Arlovski credit for his well documented turn around?
“Greg Jackson gave me hope after four losses,” Arlovski noted on a recent WSOF media call. “After my loss in grand-prix, with Strikeforce against Kharitonov, and I gave him a call and asked if I should retire…Some people told me I lost because of this and that, and he said “absolutely not. Just come to Albuquerque.”
Since then, Arlovski has gone on to defeat Ray Lopez, Travis Fulton, Devin Cole and Mike Hayes. In his bout with fellow former UFC champ Tim Sylvia, at ONE FC 5 last August, Arlovski was within grasp of victory, but the bout was declared a no contest (due to an illegal kick from the latter). With each win, Arlovski has been able to further distance himself from his well documented, four fight losing streak.
“Only one lesson is that I didn’t move to Albuquerque right after my Emelianenko fight,” Arlovski said, in referring to his KO loss to Fedor Emelianenko, which took place in January 2009, ended a five fight win streak and marked the beginning of his four bout losing run. “Like I mentioned before, it might be a different story now, but I’m happy where I am right now.”
While Jackson has also drawn criticism in the past, for allegedly developing conservative game plans, his team’s success and long list of decorated fighters speaks for itself.
“It’s a great place to train,” added Arlovski, who has recorded three stoppages in his last four wins. “Great sparring partners, teammates, and great coaches over there. I’m really happy and I still have a lot of years to fight. I’m good.”
In preparing for Johnson, Arlovski revealed that he’s also been doing some training with fellow former UFC champ Frank Mir, who is getting ready for his April 20th fight with Daniel Cormier.
“This camp was amazing because I had a chance to work, wrestle, do jiu-jitsu, spar with Travis Browne, Frank Mir, Jon Jones…they helped me a lot to be prepared for my fight against Anthony.”
While several months ago few people could have anticipated that Arlovski would be fighting Johnson next, considering that the latter has yet to fight at heavyweight, the UFC vet has been having success competing at 205 pounds.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” said Arlovski, when asked whether he thinks he may have an advantage March 23rd, due to the fact Johnson has not competed at this weight before. “I just know that he’s tough and that he’s going to give me pressure all three rounds. It might be good for him because like he mentioned before, he didn’t have to cut any weight, and he just focused on the hard work at the gym…we’ll see.”
WSOF 2 will be hosted by the Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City and will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network.