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UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov - Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub Preview and Prognostication

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Andrei Arlovski makes his long awaited but anachronistic return to the UFC for UFC 174:Johnson vs. Bagautinov against his neo-facsimile in fellow Heavyweight, Brendan Schaub.

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub Heavyweight

According to wikipedia, the last time Arlovski fought in the UFC, it was over a lackluster win against Jake O'Brien, a mere three fights removed from his loss to Tim Sylvia. This seems like a bad matchup.

And yet it's a fantastic matchup. This is the funny thing about HW. Two guys who won't ever be contending for the title can have a far more interesting presence than guys either holding the title, or challenging for it.

You're more interested in these guys than Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos?

Hell no. I just mean this is a fascinating matchup, and one that should be pretty exciting to boot.

So who is this Arlovski dude?

I remember the Arlovski years fondly. He never really stood out until he committed his game to his boxing, and out of nowhere was this exciting young, yet talented HW to invigorate the division. His impressive win over Wesley Correira at UFC 47 (one of the best UFC's of its era, in my opinion) got people buzzing, which culminated in a quick, impressive win over Tim Sylvia via achilles lock for the interim UFC HW title. He was seen as a HW with all the tools: speed, power, good striking, and good submissions. Two losses to Tim Sylvia later, he's been iceskating uphill ever since.

Didn't he finally get revenge on Sylvia?

Sort of.

Is Tim's body able to physically avoid an overhand right?

It doesn't look like it.

Arlovski at +140. A Steal?

Hell no.

First off, a word about Brendan Schaub. I'm temped to say that Schaub has figured the game out a little bit. He's a very talented fighter with some mediocre results. To lose consecutively to zombie-Nog and Ben Rothwell is not the worst thing in the world, but to lose both bouts by brutal KO? It looks bad on his record. And this in spite of the fact that he's clearly talented.

Thus, my fascination with this fight: Schaub is Arlovski. Both are two of the most agile heavyweights in the world who don't always seem aware of what to do with it, and get brutally knocked out when they do. However, whereas Schaub is still atoning for his Metamoris performance Arlovski is atoning for nearly a decade's worth of sins.

You think this is the first UFC fight to end like this?

No. Although that would be awesome.

Granted, are there are two better candidates for this than Schaub and Arlo? I don't think so. Although Schaub is the right bet. One of the things Schaub does better than Andrei ever did, is be pluripotent.

Arlovski shares a lot in common with many of the old Shooto fighters who are dynamic, but not fluid (an expression I've used so much as to be meaningless). As in, he fights like he's coached to strike when striking, grapple when grappling, but never thoroughly taught how to blend both so that you're always a threat.

Just look at Arlovski's last fight against Sylvia. Even against a shell of a shell of a shell of Tim Sylvia, he got caught on multiple occasions inside, taking a hard uppercut and a straight right inside the clinch. He doesn't move his head, and he doesn't move his body, and therefore always gets hit. I think of a lot of this is exacerbated by the damage he's taken through his career. Granted, this is conjecture, but when he gets popped his body doesn't look like it possesses the instinct to run/defend. Instead he freezes, only to get caught some more.

Schaub is totally crackable, and Andrei is fast enough to get his chin. But he can also throw some mean strikes inside, and I can't help but start writing Arlovski's obituary prematurely knowing Schaub is much more likely to take Andrei's best Sunday punch than Arlovski is able to take Brendan's.

I'd like to see Arlovski do well in the UFC. I was a big fan during his stint to the UFC title when he seemed like the only thing worth watching at HW back then. But he's a good yet rare example of a fighter whose porous defense on the feet is as detrimental as the fact that he also can't take a punch well. 7 of his 10 losses are by brutal knockout. To be honest, I wish he had retired after being finished by Sergei Kharitonov. The ending to this bout will reopen that debate.

Brendan Schaub via TKO, round 1.