Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight knockout artists Andrei Arlovski and Junior Albini will battle this Saturday (Nov 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 120 inside PPG Paints Arena in Ted Constant Convocation Center.
The expectations around Arlovski’s return to the UFC back in 2014 were low. However, the former champion bucked expectations by going on a four-fight win streak and entering the title mix. Unfortunately, the dream is over, and now Arlovski is looking to avoid his sixth consecutive loss. Albini is definitive proof that looks can be deceiving. The 26-year-old Brazilian is a definite baby face — hell, his nickname is “Baby” — but he made his debut against the No. 11 contender and flattened him inside a round.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 26-15 (1)
Key Wins: Travis Browne (UFC 187), Frank Mir (UFC 191), Antonio Silva (UFC Fight Night 51), Fabricio Werdum (UFC 70)
Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (UFC 195), Alistair Overeem (UFC Fight Night 87), Francis Ngannou (UFC on FOX 23), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 111)
Keys to Victory: Arlovski is almost the exact same fighter he’s always been, just a bit slower and less durable. He’s a one-handed power striker, capable of brutalizing just about anyone if his right hands. Meanwhile, he has low kicks and takedowns in his game, but they’re largely underutilized.
I’d love to come out and recommend a wrestling approach in this fight. Albini is a prospect with a pair of submission losses on his record, and Arlovski does have a deceptively good ground game. Unfortunately, two of Arlovski’s three previous losses have seen him defend takedowns and work for his own a bit, and he slowed down pretty badly as a result.
Fighting at 38 years of age is no easy task.
Realistically, Arlovski has to land his right hand to win this fight. He’s out of options; it’s either connect with the kill shot or take a beating.
Key Wins: Timothy Johnson (UFC on FOX 25)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: A young prospect at Heavyweight? Impossible.
Albini is odd all around. He doesn’t necessarily look like a great athlete, but he fills out the 265-pounds weight limit while still moving with the speed of a smaller man. Albini throws in combinations and uses angles well, showing he has more than just knockout power.
He also became the first man to ever stop Timothy Johnson in his debut, so rest assured that he hits hard still.
In this bout, Albini wants to avoid a brawl. Frankly, he would probably win a brawl — he’s never been knocked out, while the Belarussian has been finished via strikes 10 times — but why give Arlovski the chance to crack another jaw with his right hand? Instead, Albini needs to get his jab going and work in combination. He doesn’t want head-to-head exchanges, but if he can draw Arlovski out of position, he should be able to follow up with heavy shots. Similarly, if Arlovski is hesitant, the opening to land shots will be there if he keeps his volume up.
A high volume of strikes will also leave Arlovski behind looking to catch up, which is difficult to do given his conditioning disadvantage.
Bottom Line: It’s kind of surprising that Arlovski is still a UFC fighter.
Most expected release or retirement following Arlovski’s last defeat. Five straight is grounds for either on its own, but a total of 10 knockout losses is also a disturbing statistic. There can’t be much room left for Arlovski to slide, as the promotion has to just stop giving him fights at some point.
Will another loss hit that point? I honestly don’t know anymore, the UFC isn’t cutting anyone right now. It would probably be best for everyone involved though. If Arlovski does upset the prospect, it earns him another fight or at least the chance to retire on a win.
Albini introduced himself to the rankings with his killer debut, and this is a chance to confirm that wasn’t a fluke. If he’s really ready for the top of the division, he’ll find a way past Arlovski.
The most likely way is to punch him in the jaw a few times.
With a win, Albini proves himself ready for a Top 10-ranked opponent next. For his age and division, that’s a massive accomplishment. If he does come up short, it is still Heavyweight. One punch can end the bout regardless of how old Arlovski is, and it just means the Brazilian needs more experience.
At UFC Fight Night 120, Andrei Arlovski and Junior Albini will battle. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?