If Andrei Arlovski wants to earn an invite back to the UFC's Octagon, he's going to have to step up his game, as far as level of competition goes, because fighting welterweights like Anthony Johnson is not 'legitimate' according to Dana White.
The former UFC Heavyweight champion left the promotion four years ago for the bigger paydays of Affliction, which lasted all of six months. Since then, "The Pitbull" has made the rounds in Strikeforce, One FC and now World Series of Fighting.
But, for the 29-fight veteran -- 14 with UFC -- fighting for the Zuffa-owned promotion is still the end game.
Company president Dana White, who has always been fond of "The Pitbull," was recently asked at the UFC 158 post-fight media scrum if he would ever consider bringing Arlovski back into the mix. And even though he didn't exactly shut down the possibility, he did say his former champion has to up the level of competition because fighting a Welterweight like Anthony Johnson isn't going to cut it.
"The problem with that fight is, it's not a legitimate fight to me. For Arlovksi to want to get back into the UFC, he's a heavyweight fighting a 170-pounder, you know what I mean? "Rumble" has trouble making weight, but he's not a heavyweight. I don't know man. I just don't know. I like Andrei Arlovksi and when he left the UFC, there were no issues whatsoever. We respect him, his management. The way that they handled everything back then -- there are a lot of guys who leave and do it the wrong way and burn bridges and stuff like that. Like Tim Sylvia. Lot's of people talk about Tim Sylvia. Tim Sylvia couldn't have been a worse fucking guy when he was here and how he left and how he did it and everything else. Then you look at a guy like Arlovski who couldn't have left the company in a better way. Just because you leave, doesn't mean it's on bad terms. I just don't know if Arlovski is at that level and a fight against "Rumble" Johnson isn't going to make us go, ‘holy shit, Arlovski is going to be back in the UFC.'"
After suffering four consecutive losses from 2009 to 2011 to Fedor Emelianenko, Brett Rogers, Antonio Silva and Sergei Kharitonov; Arlovski quickly turned things around, winning four straight with one controversial "No Contest" (NC) against bitter rival, the aforementioned Sylvia, under the One FC flag in Aug. 2012.
The competition hasn't exactly been top notch, taking out guys such as Ray Lopez, Travis Fulton, Devin Cole and Mike Hayes. And should "The Pitbull" manage to defeat Johnson at WSOF 2 on March 23, 2013, and collect his fifth straight win, he would likely still have to fight and defeat much stiffer competition if he wants to impress White and Co. and earn an invitation back to the big show.
Josh Barnett comes to mind.