Once considered one of the greatest heavyweights in the world, Andrei Arlovski has fallen on hard times.
After seemingly getting his career back on track with five straight victories over the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Ben Rothwell and Roy Nelson, the former UFC heavyweight champion has now lost four straight with three of them coming by way of knockout.
It started with Fedor Emelianenko. The Belarusian boxer was putting pressure on "The Last Emperer" before getting knocked out of the sky during an ill-advised flying knee that left him completely unconscious in the center of the ring.
He followed that up with three straight defeats, including a 22 second drubbing at the hands of Brett Rogers and, most recently, a brutal first round knockout loss to Sergei Kharitonov in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix this past February.
After several months of inaction, despite hearing calls for him to retire, Arlovski signed with the resurrected Pro Elite and is scheduled to headline their inaugural event against the unheralded Ray Lopez in just 10 days (August 27, 2011) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Arlovski held a press conference for the media and fans and was not very happy when asked about damage to his brain:
"Come on, let's be f*cking serious. I'm already sick of f*cking stupid questions about head injuries and weak chin. It's f*cking bullsh*t and honestly, it pisses me off. Who says? I don't know. I'm feeling great. I'm in good shape and everything's fine. Do I look like a f*cking retired person or something? I don't understand. Next question."
Arlovski may be angry about the many questions for his personal safety, but they are legitimate concerns. After his most recent first round knockout to Sergei Kharitonov, he's now been put to sleep seven times in his mixed martial arts career. Even the former champion's manager was concerned.
"Leo (Arlovski's manager) was the first one who told me my rule: you have to first check yourself and afterwards you have to keep up to let you continue to fight because he probably first person except my mom and my family who concerned about my health. He basically took me by the hand and walked me to the doctor's office and we did all checks, all scans and everything's fine. I get same question over and over and everything's fine. After my fight with Kharitonov, like everybody, all the information about my health, this and that. Of course I want to fight and don't want to do any other exams but of course I was emotional after that fight. Leo said, "it's up to our friendship. You have to first check your health, check your brain, your head and see what you're gonna do and find out what you're gonna do after."
Arlovski's manager was also involved in the call and he explained his side of the story as well, discussing all the check-ups, exams and scans that Andrei had to go through before being physically cleared to continue fighting.
"The outcomes were all fine. Andrei would not be fighting unless he would be medically cleared. All the exams were done and no one sees anything wrong with him. Through the exams, nobody could tell whether he was or wasn't knocked out. No one could tell that there was head trauma or damage. Physically, he's fit to go. Everything else is in Andrei's hands at this point."
Leo Khorlinsky elaborated on the situation, including addressing Arlovski's emotional health as well.
"I never like to make any decisions or assumptions. I'm listening to everybody. I'm listening to experts. At the same time when you hear, "this is really bad," my counter was this, "Andrei do you want to fight? What do you want to do?" Let's go check you out and let's see what the doctors have to say. That's what we did. Andrei saw a number of doctors. They looked at his head. They looked at his brain from many different angles and the results came positive. If health-wise he is ok, I have absolutely no objection for Andrei to continue to fight if he really wants it. If I don't see that he really wants it, then I think it's dangerous to go fight because if you're not fighting because you believe in yourself, then you are potentially exposing yourself to unnecessary danger.
"If health-wise, you are not fit, then I would obviously voice my opinion. From numerous conversations we've had, I can tell he really wants to do it. He's really passionate about rebuilding his career. I can see him in the same state that he was in many years ago after back-to-back losses when he just started out in the UFC and the doctors came back with negative results. Everything was fine in his head so I don't have any objections for him to continue fighting at this time."
What may be the most surprising number of all was how long Arlovski (currently 32 years old) would like to continue fighting.
"Until my health, my body let me fight, I will fight for sure. I'm looking forward to fight until 40, that's what I want."
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Is Andrei Arlovski sacrificing his future by continuing to step inside the cage? Do you really think he'll be able to fight until he's 40?