When Andrei Arlovski faces Mike Kyle this weekend (Sat., Sept. 14, 2013) at WSOF 5 inside Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., it will be the Belarusian fighter's third fight and third main event for the upstart mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
"I'm happy to be in main event, but it's not necessary for me," Arlovski explained to MMAmania.com recently. "For me it's more important just fighting and doing my job very well. But, yeah, I'm very excited, it's fun to be in main event again."
Despite losing his last time out against Anthony Johnson at WSOF 2, "The Pitbull" has found newfound success, winning four out of six fights with one no contest. After his horrific knockout loss to Sergei Kharitonov in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix back in Feb. 2011, many experts were considering that to be the beginning of the end for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion.
"It's because of my character and I didn't want to end my MMA career like that," Arlovski explains. "One day I was a champ and I was on top of the world. I had a bad time, and now, step-by-step, I try to climb back up to the top."
The 34-year-old former champ joined the highly-touted Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA team after his four-fight skid. And since that move, the results have been positive. Arlovski is able to look back at his ill-timed attempt at a flying knee in his fight against Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: "Day of Reckoning" in Jan. 2009, now able to put his MMA career into perspective.
"I mentioned before in my interviews, if I didn't do that stupid flying knee, it might be a different story," he says with conviction. "I am where I am right now. One major way to say, everything happens for a reason. It was assurance for me to be on the ground and be knocked out and be on the bottom of my life because I was so miserable. Now I train with Greg Jackson and I am happy."
Arlovski has been training with heavyweights Travis Browne and Frank Mir at Jackson's, but for this camp he has been training with the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
"We train a lot and spar a lot," Arlovski said. "He is my main sparring partner because he has a fight on Sept. 21 at UFC 165 after me. The last couple of weeks I've had probably the best sparring sessions I‘ve had in the last couple years, because we tried to show each other who we are, and it was very productive and very interesting sparring ... at least for me.
"He is a champion in the UFC. He has also good kicks, good quick hands," Arlovski said, explaining the benefits of working with "Bones" in preparation for his WSOF 5 fight. "His boxing is probably really close to Mike Kyle. He helped me a lot. I think it was great and will work out for both of us. I hope I helped Jon Jones, too."
"The Pitbull" explained that when he and Kyle were both in the UFC they were "supposed to fight, but it didn't happen."
Kyle has several fights of experience at Heavyweight, and Arlovksi explained his opponent's best attributes and what he needs to prepare for.
"He has a pretty good fast jab and sneaky right hand and I have to ready at all times. I have to be focused the whole time during the fight."
Although he has appeared in several movies, he has no current projects that would distract him from fighting. The former co-star of two of the "Universal Soldier" films still has interest in movies and even admitted to almost landing a small part in "Fast and Furious 6," but it never materialized.
"Obviously, MMA pays all my bills, but if I have free time and someone calls me and wants me to be in a movie, of course, I'm like Nike ... just do it!" he said.
Arlovski would not discuss how many fights he has left on his WSOF contract. However, he did give a strong indication he will continue his fighting career for the foreseeable future, and that he still feels a title is within reach.
"I will do anything possible for myself to be champion again for my fans, and of course, I need to support my family," he said. The veteran fighter gratefully admits he has an "understanding" wife and "the right people around" him now.
"I have everything and just need to move forward and be champion one day again. I will do what is possible for my dream to reach my goal."