When a fighter loses three straight match-ups in the cage, his back is clearly against the wall. There are only so many top-level spots available, regardless of his name value.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is facing that exact problem. And he realizes it.
Coming up this weekend, Arlovski faces noted striker Sergei Kharitonov in the first round of Strikeforce’s star-studded eight-man single-elimination heavyweight tournament. The fight will take place Saturday night on Showtime.
“I need this victory,” Arlovski said about the fight with Kharitonov, “especially because I lost my last few fights. It’s a huge fight. I’m going to give every breath I have in that cage.”
Arlovski has been in a slump over the past two years. His last win came in October 2008 over former IFL champion and current UFC star Roy Nelson. That match-up took place in EliteXC, which is no longer even in existence.
Now, as a testament to his prior pedigree as a fighter, Arlovski enters the heavyweight tournament. In his career, Arlovski has defeated notable opponents Fabricio Werdum, Tim Sylvia and Paul Buentello. All told, Arlovski has 15 wins against eight losses.
The eight-man heavyweight field is comprised of Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Werdum, Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, Brett Rogers, Kharitonov, and Arlovski.
In regards to the tournament, Arlovski has already squared off with four of the participants. His lone win came against Werdum. Emelianenko, Rogers, and Silva all defeated the Belarus native.
The three fighters account for Arlovski’s current three-fight losing streak.
“I lost the fights even before I stepped into the cage,” Arlovski said, noting mental preparation being the reason for the losses. “Now, I am certain I will follow my game plan.”
Prior to 2008, Arlovski reeled off five straight victories. With what may be his final major opportunity, Arlovski plans to return to his prior form.
“I have improved my kickboxing, and I am very good on the ground,” Arlovski said. “I plan to take full advantage of the tournament.”
One man Arlovski would like another fight with is not in the tournament. When asked about longtime rival Tim Sylvia, Arlovski left no doubt about his feelings for the former UFC champion.
“(Expletive) him,” Arlovski said. “I don’t give a (expletive) about Tim Sylvia. It’s a dream to fight him again. It’s personal.”
Sylvia recently suffered a surprising first-round knockout loss by unheralded Abe Wagner.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Arlovski said, when asked if he saw Sylvia vs. Wagner. “I didn’t see the fight.”
However, before there is any official talk of a fourth fight with Sylvia (Arlovski is 1-2 against Sylvia), he has to participate in Strikeforce’s tournament.
Should he be successful, Arlovski will quickly erase any questions about his career. If he wins the whole tournament, Arlovski will once again be regarded as one of the top heavyweights in the world.
“I am really excited for the tournament,” Arlovski said, “and I am really for Strikeforce and Showtime to consider me for it. Those guys kicked my ass, but now, I have a chance to come back.”
The journey starts this weekend against Kharitonov.
“It will be a heck of a fight,” Arlovski said. “It’s going to be great. I’m really looking forward to it.”