by Chicago Sun Times
(The following article is courtesy of the Chicago Sun Times)
The baddest man in Chicago
He lost it. As Andrei Arlovski was snarling at our camera with his pit-bull mouthguard in full view, the 6-4, 240-pound Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king erupted in laughter.
Arlovski doesn’t do a good job of pretending to be mean. A native of Minsk, Belarus, and a resident of Chicago for nearly six years, Arlovski is more of a poodle than a pit bull when he’s not fighting. He has delayed news conferences to shadow-box with kids.
But when he steps into the UFC ring, known as ”The Octagon,” a metamorphosis takes place.
ANDREI THE GIANT
Vitals: 6-4, 240, 27 years old.
Record: 7-2 in UFC.
Strengths: Extremely quick for a heavyweight; excellent striker; may be most dangerous on the mat.
Quick starter: Four of his knockouts came in the first 1:25 of the bout.
”Pound for pound, he’s the scariest guy we have,” UFC president Dana White said. ”He’s nasty.”
Arlovski became heavyweight champ Aug. 12, 2005, because of injuries suffered by former champ Frank Mir in a motorcycle accident. Arlovski’s only defense was Oct. 7, and it took him 15 seconds to knock out Paul Buentello.
”Guys aren’t itching to fight Andrei,” White said. ”Usually, young fighters coming up can’t wait to get in there with the champ. Not with Andrei.”
Arlovski will defend his title April 15 against Tim Sylvia, whom he forced to submit with an ankle lock in 47 seconds on Feb. 5, 2005. It’s the main event of a pay-per-view card at the Pond in Anaheim, Calif. The arena — with a capacity of more than 17,000 — is sold out.
Arlovski, 27, lives in Ukrainian Village, but not because of its ethnicity. It’s close to Jabb Gym, which is where he works out with former professional boxer Mike Garcia.
”I think he’s the baddest man in Chicago,” Garcia said. ”But he doesn’t think that.
”He’s very humble. He doesn’t have an ego and respects his fighters. And he trains so hard.”
Arlovski was a policeman in Belarus before embracing mixed martial arts and eventually landing in Chicago.
He likes to dress in suits when he’s out on the town, and some people who know him away from the ring have trouble believing he participates in such a brutal sport.
”When I’m going to work, I’m going to do my job, and I try to do my job very well,” he said. ”But outside the ring, I try to stay humble and be nice.
”But I like fighting. It’s what I do.”
BRING THE UFC TO CHICAGO
This is the fastest-growing sport. Yes, it is a sport. This isn’t toughman brawling or pro wrestling. This is the purest hand-to-hand combat with rules that make ultimate fighting safer than boxing.
There have been too many boxing deaths — including one last weekend in Evansville, Ind. — to pretend ultimate fighting is more dangerous. There hasn’t been a major injury since Dana White took over the UFC in 2001.
State athletic commissions in Nevada, New Jersey and California recognize UFC events, but Illinois doesn’t. On Friday, Nevada Athletic Commission boss Marc Ratner quit to become a UFC vice president.
There is apparently some legislation in Illinois with wording that bans ultimate fighting. Such legislation was passed when toughman competitions crossed the line between sport and savagery.
Monte Cox manages several UFC fighters and promotes mixed-martial-arts cards in Illinois.
”We have to make sure the venue has had a fire inspection, that a medical doctor will be there and that there’s a sanctioning body,” Cox said.
Those are easy requirements, but Cox doesn’t use the words ”ultimate fighting” in his promotions.
There is some buzz the UFC ultimately will be welcomed in Chicago. The word is at least one person in lllinois is working to that end.
”There are two cities we still have to knock down — New York and Chicago,” White said.