It’s the holiday season, and with the new year quickly approaching, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2015. Throughout the remainder of the year, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
Who would have thought that in 2016, Andrei Arlovski would be in title contention and stand as a top-five UFC heavyweight?
It’s been a long, arduous road for Arlovski. He began his UFC career 15 years ago. No, that is not a typo. Fifteen years ago, the 21-year-old Belarusian made his UFC debut. He would go on to win the interim heavyweight championship in 2005. Then he went on to become the UFC heavyweight champion and defended it once before losing his title to Tim Sylvia at UFC 59 in 2006. Fast-forward to 2009-11 and fans saw Arlovski lose four straight bouts, including three first-round defeats via strikes. It looked like the end of an era for the former champion, but Arlovski was not about to go quietly into the night.
Arlovski collected four wins in his next six bouts, making his case for a UFC return. It was one that many were hesitant to see due to past claims of a “glass jaw.” Arlovski came back with something to prove. In 2014, he defeated Brendan Schaub to collect his first UFC win since 2008. Then he shocked the world by knocking out Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. As if that wasn’t enough, Arlovski was able to overcome the odds and defeated Travis Browne and, most recently, former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.
As of the most recent rankings, Arlovski is ranked second. He has an upcoming bout with Stipe Miocic at UFC 195 on Jan. 2, which is more than likely a title eliminator. The “Pitbull” is looking to be released from his cage and possibly set up a rematch with current champion Fabricio Werdum, a man whom Arlovski has already bested. Time seems to be a friend of the “Pitbull,” and he’s ready for another shot at UFC gold.
Other Finalists: Demian Maia, Evan Dunham, Frank Mir
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2015 MMA Award winners.