Former UFC heavyweight titleholder Andrei Arlovski is on a quest to regain his former status as the top heavyweight in the world. His next hurdle on that path is Anthony Johnson in the main event of World Series of Fighting 2 on March 23.
Arlovski went winless in 2009 and 2010, losing four fights in a row. Many felt the Belarus-born fighter was past his prime. Some thought he should retire, but Arlovski silenced his critics by putting together a four-fight winning streak.
Arlovski attributes his turnaround to a change in training camp.
“The difference has been I started with Greg Jackson. He became my head coach. My location for training for any fights is Albuquerque, N.M.,” Arlovski told MMAWeekly.com.
The training has gone well enough that Arlovski is considering relocating to New Mexico for the remainder of his fighting career.
“I might move here a few years before I get done fighting with my family. I’m going to spend more time with Greg Jackson and John Winkeljohn. I want to get better and better and be a champion and No. 1 again,” he said.
At 34 years old, every fight has become more and more important for Arlovski. To achieve his goals, he can’t afford to lose.
“Every fight since I lost in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, every step for me is very important. Every fight becomes harder for me, more important for me than the previous fight,” said Arlovski. “Most important for me and my career is that every fight is a potential good fight and show my skills and getting better and better from fight to fight.
“I want to be a champion and I want to be No. 1 in the world again because I know the taste of glory and the taste of being on top of the world. Also, I know that feeling when you’re down and when pretty much everybody shows respect and they’re not friends with you anymore. I’m not worried about getting more friends, but definitely I want to be a champion and I want to be on top of the world,” added the former titleholder.
The fight with Arlovski will be Johnson’s heavyweight debut.
“He’s a great fighter. He’s a great wrestler, no doubt. He’s a good striker. I don’t understand why he moved up to the heavyweight division just for one fight, a fight against me. I guess it is something personal for him,” said Arlovski about his World Series of Fighting 2 opponent.
“As long as nobody says (expletive) and we don’t say (expletive) about each other, I respect him as a fighter and I’m going to face him on March 23,” he said.
“He’s a real dangerous opponent for me. That’s why I took this fight so serious. During all of my camp I did everything my trainers told me to do. Obviously, I became a slave of Greg Jackson. If he said I have to run, I’m going to run. If he told me I had to rest a couple of days, I took a couple of days off. I’m really focused for this fight. This fight is very important for me.”
Arlovski feels Johnson has an advantage in the wrestling department over him, but has trained accordingly and expects to get his hand raised at the end of the fight.
“I’m going to do everything possible to beat Anthony Johnson. That’s why I spent a lot of time with wrestlers. He’s a much better wrestler than me and a very good striker, but I definitely have something to bring to the table on March 23,” he said.
World Series of Fighting 2 takes place on Saturday at Ovation Hall at Revel in Atlantic City. The preliminary bouts will be streaming live on MMAWeekly.com. The main card will air live on NBC Sports Network in the U.S., but stream live on MMAWeekly.com across the rest of the globe.