Andrei Arlovski has been one of the craftiest and most adaptive fighters in the history of mixed martial arts, managing to stay relevant in the game a full 12 years after he lost the UFC heavyweight title.
But while the Belarus native has been written off more than once only to rise again, this time, Father Time might be finally catching up to the 39-year-old warrior once and for all.
Arlovski dropped an ugly grind of a heavyweight fight to Shamil Abdurakhimov on the main card of UFC Moscow on Saturday, earning a unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 29-28 and a pair of 30-27s.
The tone was set in the opening round, as Abdurakhimov had figured out Arlovski’s timing from the get-go. He’d catch Arlvoski’s attempts at leg kicks, shove him to the mat, and do work from the top.
Arlovski had his best round in the second, the closest round of the fight. His right hand can still put people to sleep, and he landed it often enough to keep Abdurakhimov honest and force him to initiate clinches in a stanza which could have gone either way.
But Arlovski ran out of gas in the third, and Abdurakhimov landing an eye poke and a knee to the groin didn’t help matters. Abdurakhimov was never threatened in the final round.
With the victory, the 37-year-old Dagestani improved to 19-4. He’s won two straight and four of his past five.
“It wasn’t an easy fight at all,” the victor said after his seventh career decision win. “Andrei is a true master of the sport, I would have liked to land some clean shots but it is what it is.”
Arlovski dropped to 27-17 (1 NC). He’s dropped two straight and seven of his past nine.