In news no-one saw coming, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski has been re-signed by the UFC, some six years since he last fought in the Octagon.
Arlovski had been under contract with the World Series Of Fighting promotion, but despite having one fight left on his deal, they decided to let him go after he made a request to join the UFC.
“Arlovski brought attention to us when we needed it,” WSOF Exec Ali Abdel-Aziz told MMAfighting.com. “At this point, I wish him the best of luck back in the UFC.”
For a long time it seemed as if there was very little chance that Arlovski would ever return to the UFC, so this signing is somewhat of a surprise. At this stage it’s not known who the 35 year-old’s first opponent will be, but there is talk that it may be Brendan Schaub.
Arlovski had a long association with the UFC in the past, debuting for the promotion in 2000, and despite a couple of early defeats to stars at the time like Pedro Rizzo and Ricco Rodriguez, he eventually found his stride and pieced together a winning run that resulted in him winning the interim heavyweight title against Tim Sylvia and later becoming the official champion.
He later came unstuck with back-to-back losses to his rival Sylvia, but won a further three fights afterwards, including a decision win over current UFC title contender Fabricio Werdum.
Despite that unbeaten stretch, Arlovski then left the UFC after failing to come to terms on a new deal.
Since then Arlovski has fought for a number of different promotions and been on something of a rollercoaster ride with more lows than highs.
Things started off well enough, demonstrating his knockout power against two tough customers in Ben Rothwell and Roy Nelson for the Afflication and Elite XC promotions respectively.
However, he then embarked on a disastrous year and a half spell that saw him lose four fights in a row, starting with a KO loss to Fedor Emelianenko.
Despite that defeat he was signed by Strikeforce, suffering a TKO loss to Brett Rogers, decision loss to Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and a knockout defeat at the hands of Sergei Kharitanov that left his reputation in tatters.
Despite this rough spell which lead to many people questioning his chin and bringing up the possibility of retirement, Arlovski never faltered in his desire to continue to compete and climb back to the top, and though his performances were sub-par, he did finally start to mount a comeback with two wins for the re-formed ProElite promotion.
Next up came a fourth fight with his long-time nemesis Tim Sylvia, and he almost avenged his previous two losses to ‘The Maine-iac’, soundly beating him up before landing an illegal kick while his opponent was on the mat which lead to a no-contest ruling.
Apart from a tough loss to Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson that left him with a broken jaw early last year in the WSOF promotion (fighting on to a decision despite the injury), Arlovski has won four of his last five fights, including a win over Mike Kyle in his last WSOF appearance, and that’s been deemed enough to pave the way for his UFC return.
There’s no reason to suggest that Arlovski is back to his best or is any kind of world beater at this stage in his career, but he’s always had solid fan support and with the UFC’s heavyweight roster being a little stale at this moment in time it won’t hurt to have him back on-board.