Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (27-16 1 NC ) is preparing to meet Shamil Abdurakhimov (18-4) at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Oleinik. That event goes down on September 15th at Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Arena.
The event marks the UFC’s first ever appearance in Russia. It’s no surprise that popular UFC veteran Arlovski, a fluent-Russian speaker who was born in what is now Belarus, is being called upon to make local media appearances to drum up some excitement. However, Arlovski’s recent appearance on a Russian UFC Tonight-style program didn’t go as the UFC, or their media partners, would have anticipated.
A clip that was uploaded to YouTube (ht MMA Mania) shows Arlovski in a studio set-up speaking with a host while footage of his fight with Alistair Overeem is played. Arlovski vs. Overeem happened at UFC Fight Night Rotterdam in 2016. The contest, which featured bad blood stemming from both fighters’ associations with Jackson Winkeljohn MMA Academy, ended with a Overeem TKO in the second round.
As the footage of the fight reached the point where Overeem unleashed ground and pound on a turtled up Arlovski, the show cut back to the studio. At that point Arlovski had stood up and was in the process of removing his mic pack.
According to Reddit user MMA_Russia, Arlovski said “We are live right? Ok, let’s just stop this interview. You are rooting only for the Russian fighters. Thank you, good bye.” Arlovski then left the set.
Arlovski’s Moscow opponent Abdurakhimov hails from the Republic of Dagestan, a federal subject of Russia in the North Caucasus region. Abdurakhimov is 3-2 in the UFC with wins over Chase Sherman, Walt Harris, and Anthony Hamilton.
Arlovski won UFC gold in 2005 against Tim Sylvia. After Sylvia reclaimed the heavyweight title, Arlovski went on a near-decade long odyssey through Affliction, EliteXC, Strikeforce, ONE FC, and WSOF. He resigned with ZUFFA in 2014 and won four fights in a row (over Brandon Schaub, Antonio Silva, Travis Browne, and Frank Mir).
The late career resurgence put Arlovski on the edge of title contention, but a five-fight losing streak later relegated him to the position of heavyweight gatekeeper. Since that skid he beat Junior Albini and Stefan Struve before dropping a close decision versus Tai Tuivasa in June.
UFC Fight Night: Moscow will feature the 39-year-old Arlovski’s 45th pro fight. The card is headlined by Mark Hunt and Alexey Oleinik. Over veterans suiting up for Moscow include Nikita Krylov, Thiago Alves, and C.B. Dollaway.