That “f**king diaper” is not the only thing that bothered Junior Albini in his fight against Andrei Arlovski.
The Brazilian heavyweight signed with the UFC on a nine-fight winning streak earlier this year, and stopped Timothy Johnson in less than three minutes in his debut. He became a sensation in the MMA world for both his knockout and post-fight scrum, but that got into his head a little bit.
Albini was offered a fight with former champion Andrei Arlovski at UFC Norfolk on Nov. 11, but didn’t deliver. The 26-year-old fighter couldn’t pull the trigger, and saved Arlovski from his sixth straight defeat.
“I believe that I believed too much in his recent history and what people was telling me,” Albini told MMA Fighting. “People said I would knock him out easily, that he would go down with the power of my hands, and that didn’t happen. I fought to knock him out and he fought to win, and his plan worked.”
Albini went for one-punch KO in the first round, but couldn’t find the target. When he came back to his corner in between rounds, he knew it wasn’t pretty.
“I thought Tim Johnson was a more complicated match-up, but Arlovski was dangerous,” he said. “He connected two heavy punches that made me stop being so aggressive. I thought I would knock him out fast. What really f*cked my head is that it was a bad fight. I left the first round thinking ‘this is a sh*tty fight.’”
In hindsight, Albini says that taking this fight less than four months after his debut wasn’t smart. He said “yes” when offered this fight by the UFC because “Arlovski was at the end of his career, so I felt it was an obligation take the fight because it was a good opportunity, but taking fights back-to-back was mentally tiring.”
After the fight, the Brazilian heavyweight flew to Florida to visit American Top Team and ended up meeting Arlovski one more time there. Albini was already planning on heading to ATT before UFC Norfolk, but postponed it after he found out that Arlovski was training there as well.
“I always had this image that Arlovski was a cool dude, super humble,” Albini said. “I went to talk to him, told him that he inspired me, that he’s an icon, especially for heavyweights, and he said ‘f*ck no, I’m sh*t, there are fighters way better than me, but thank you’ [laughs]. He’s super humble, a cool guy. It was nice to meet him. Maybe in the future we get to train together at American Top Team.”
Albini plans on going to ATT in January or February to train with bigger guys and focus on his wrestling, and might do his next training camp in Florida as he targets a late April, early May return to the Octagon.
“I know I could have beaten him, but I look up to the guy,” Albini said. “That was his 24th fight in the UFC and only my second. He has more time in the UFC than I have of training, so this experience definitely counts. I saw Francis Ngannou saying some sh*t that experience doesn’t count. It sure does. Anything I can learn (from Arlovski), inside or outside the fight, is valid.”