by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com

Vadim Finkelstein made an
offer; Andrei Arlovski refused.


It was 2005, the time of
Arlovski’s reign as UFC heavyweight champion. His talent and ambition had
brought him Stateside in April of 2000 after capturing the European crown of
Finkelstein’s promotion, M-1 Mix Fight, earlier that year. His UFC 28 debut was
a success, announcing his presence in the then-struggling company with a
submission victory over Aaron Brink.


Arlovski slowly worked his
way to the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division, persisting through setbacks
at UFC 32 and 36 to wrest the interim, and later official, title away from Tim
Sylvia at UFC 51. He was living his American dream.


Then, his old boss came


"Vadim contacted me and
said, ‘I want you to be a member of my team; train with Fedor,’" Arlovski told
in an exclusive video interview.


Back in 2000, he was still
green as a fighter, and Emelianenko was unknown to him. Five years later, he
was well acquainted with the Russian’s talents, as was the rest of the MMA


There were rumblings of the
UFC trying to acquire Emelianenko in 2005 for a mega-fight – proof that
the free agency mania surrounding him existed long before post-Bodog and Pride
days – which Arlovski took with a grain of salt.


The way he saw it, there was
no reason to join Emelianenko’s camp. He was at the peak of his career, and
wanted to do things his way.


"I said, ‘First of all,
I have a lot of ambitions, and maybe one day I will fight Fedor and I don’t
want to be his shadow,’ (like) most guys in his heavyweight camp," he
continued. "I said, ‘no thank you.’"


Just like that, Arlovski went
his way, and Emelianenko went his.


In 2006, Arlovski lost his
title, and a little bit of his luster, at UFC 59 in a rematch with nemesis Tim
Sylvia; he failed to regain it in their rubber match at UFC 61. He rebounded
with three solid wins against Marcio Cruz, Fabricio Werdum, and Jake O’Brien,
but by then, the UFC heavyweight picture had changed dramatically. Unhappy with
the numbers in a new contract offering, Arlovski left the organization on
cordial terms in June.


"I took a lesson from
those fights," he said. "I choose fighting. I change all my


Emelianenko continued to
dominate his opponents, though many were ill-suited to
face him. Affliction scooped up the heavyweight in Spring 2008 after
negotiations with the UFC broke down yet another time. His 36-second victory
over Sylvia at Affliction’s "Banned" did much to resurrect his myth
as an unbeatable fighter.


In the end, Arlovski’s
prediction came true. After initially being scheduled to face top ranked
heavyweight Josh Barnett on Oct. 11, Affliction’s next show, "Day of
Reckoning," was moved to Jan. 24, with Emelianenko taking Barnett’s place.


Needless to say, Arlovski is
happy with his decision.


"If I try to do
something, I try to do the best, and I’m a grown man and I have my vision of
life and my personal ambitions," Arlovski said.

"I don’t want to be (the) shadow of somebody. I don’t want to do what
somebody wants that I do. I want to do what I want, and that’s exactly what I’m
doing now."


The Belarusian heavyweight is
currently in Los Angeles for a three-week camp with renowned boxing coach
Freddie Roach. The two have been working together on and off for seven years,
and share a mutual affection. On Christmas, they will log two training
sessions. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will drop in for some


Arlovski feels the timing of
the Emelianenko fight is right, particularly after Emelianenko’s loss last
month at the World Sambo Championships. Nothing will be left to chance.


"After his loss in the
Sambo tournament, I think he’s messed up a little bit," Arlovski said.

"He says it’s not important, but c’mon, let’s be serious. He was
unbeatable, like, five years, six years in Sambo, and he’s not beatable in MMA.
When you lose something, of course it’s (expletive) important. For me, it’s
really hard to believe that he doesn’t care about it. Of course he cares. He’s
not like 100 percent sure of himself."


That said, he is banking on
the hardest fight of his life, one eight years in the making.


"If I think I can beat
him because he lose his Sambo, I would be a stupid person," he said.
"I want to beat him because of my hard work.


"I have a great
opportunity to change everything."


Affliction 2 Video:
Andrei Arlovski Interview