Two incredibly powerful combatants will do battle this Saturday night (Sept. 14, 2013) as former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski takes on the American Kickboxing Academy's Mike Kyle in the main event of World Series of Fighting 5 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Arlovski had a brief run of poor showings, but he looked to have put it all behind him after going unbeaten in five straight bouts, but he had his streak snapped by Anthony Johnson at WSOF 2 earlier this past year. He's looking to get back on track against Kyle.
Kyle was retired for about a month after getting submitted by Gegard Mousasi in the final Strikeforce event, but the cage called him back and he scored a dominant first round knockout of Travis Wiuff at CFA 11 in just 21 seconds, and it should have been stopped earlier. He's looking to score perhaps the biggest win of his career this weekend.
Record: 19-10 1 NC overall, 1-1 in WSOF
Key Wins: Roy Nelson (EliteXC: Heat), Ben Rothwell (Affliction: Banned), Fabricio Werdum (UFC 70)
Key Losses: Anthony Johnson (WSOF 2), Antonio Silva (Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery), Fedor Emelianenko (Affliction: Day of Reckoning)
How he got here: With a strong history in Russian combat sambo, Arlovski jumped into MMA feet first, although he bit off a bit more than he could chew, losing three of his first seven fights against a pair of more seasoned veterans.
That all changed when "Pitbull" put it all together and started smashing his opposition, winning six straight bouts in UFC and capturing the promotion's heavyweight title, defending it twice in the process. Arlovski would lose a rematch to Tim Sylvia and the trilogy fight, eventually moving on when he became a free agent.
Arlovski eventually signed with Affliction and fought Fedor Emelianenko, but was brutally knocked out after an ill-advised flying knee attempt which kickstarted a brutal four fight stretch that saw him get knocked out three times against top competition.
Since then, the Belarusian has switched over to Greg Jackson's gym and has seen positive results, going unbeaten for five straight bouts before getting his jaw broken against Johnson in his last fight. He stepped up when Anthony Johnson got hurt, filling in to face Kyle in the main event.
How he gets it done: Arlovski is going to be bigger, stronger and likely better condition than Kyle. He just needs to keep his emotions in check and not get too reckless. Kyles biggest advantage is the fact that he might be quicker with his feet and his punches likely come comes out a little faster as well.
The best course of action for Arlovski would be to utilize his size and strength against Kyle, similar to what Antonio Silva did after getting rocked. Kyle doesn't have a very good ground game, so if Arlovski can drag him to the canvas and beat him up with punches on the ground, that would be a good idea.
The cage is also Arlovski's friend. If he can lean on Kyle against the fence and work him over with some short knees and elbows, he's got a very good chance of wearing him out. Look for him to try to make Kyle carry his weight whenever possible.
Record: 20-9-1 (2 no contests) overall, 0-0 in WSOF
Key Wins: Rafael Cavalcante (Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields), Travis Wiuff (CFA 11), Marcos Rogerio de Lima (Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov)
Key Losses: Gegard Mousasi (Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine), Antonio Silva (Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu), Fabricio Werdum (Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg)
How he got here: Mike Kyle has had a very strange career arc. He stepped up and faced some very difficult opposition early in his career, losing bouts to the likes of Dan Bobish, Paul Buentello and Justin Eilers in his first 11 fights.
'Mak" had a very difficult 0-3-1 stretch from 2006-2008, most notably his incredibly bizarre actions in a WEC title fight against Brian Olsen where he refused to quit attacking his opponent after the referee tried to pull him off and he was disqualified and suspended for an extended period of time.
Kyle bounced back in Strikeforce, even knocking out former champion Rafael Cavalcante. Unsurprisingly, he's had his most difficult times when he stepped up at heavyweight against Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum, getting stopped both times. He's hoping third time will be the charm when he faces Arlovski on Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Kyle's biggest advantage against Arlovski is speed. He's not as big as "Pitbull" but he's quick and can get inside and land a huge shot before Arlovski can react, similar to when he dropped Antonio Silva in the opening moments of his fight.
Kyle likely can't hang with Arlovski in the clinch or on the ground, but if he can keep this fight in the pocket, he'll have a great opportunity to explode, do some serious damage with his punches and potentially finish him. You always have to keep Arlovski's chin in the equation and one big shot can ultimate decide the victor here.
Who will come out on top at World Series of Fighting 5? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!