Under the Microscope: Analyzing Heavyweight Greats

Andrei Arlovski

By Eric Stinton Feb 15, 2016

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a five-part series examining the best of the best in each of the five major MMA weight classes.

Heavyweight champions have always been bequeathed the title “Baddest Man on the Planet,” -- and for good reason: With great size comes great power, and nothing is more captivating than feeling the ground quake beneath titanic warriors duking it out.

Heavyweight has been a steadily volatile division, with championship belts changing hands like batons. As such, compiling the shortlist was no easy task. Five men -- Tim Sylvia, Frank Mir, Mark Coleman, Alistair Overeem and Don Frye -- barely missed the cut, even though they could all be easily justified in these ranks. As such, they are considered Greatest of All-Time candidates, despite not being on the list. Ultimately, this is a statistical analysis first and foremost, and all of the honorable exclusions were found lacking in the same basic principal: Their win-loss ratios, compared to the strength of opponents faced, were lower than everyone else. Meaning, they had the worst records when accounting for the records of their opponents. The only exception to that rule was Randy Couture, whose ungodly record in title fights buoyed him into the final considerations. It is a tough pill to swallow, but decisions must be made.

On a final note of housekeeping, many of these G.O.A.T. hopefuls participated in various open-weight fights. These were only counted if their opponent weighed in above 206 pounds for the fight. As always, only fights that occurred in major organizations or against high-profile opponents counted towards these numbers, the only exception being the total winning streak. A case is made for each fighter as the Greatest of All-Time, and then those arguments are turned on their heads to present the counterweight. The aggregate of both biases will clear the air or stir up more dust. Either way, let the debates begin:

Andrei Arlovski


* Heavyweight Record: 20-10-1
* Opponent Winning Percentage: .746
* Longest Winning Streak: 6
* Record in Major Heavyweight Title Fights: 3-2
* Finish Percentage: 80
* Finished Percentage: 70
* Notable Victories: Vladimir Matyushenko, Tim Sylvia, Paul Buentello, Fabricio Werdum, Ben Rothwell, Roy Nelson, Antonio Silva, Travis Browne, Frank Mir
* Career Accomplishments: UFC heavyweight champion, with one successful defense; UFC interim heavyweight champion; two-time “Performance of the Night” winner; tied for most knockouts in UFC heavyweight history; second most wins in UFC heavyweight history

CASE FOR: Arlovski is a true O.G. in the heavyweight division, and his name still holds clout. While most of his old cohorts have either retired or fallen off, the Belarusian brutalizer is still among the cream of the crop in the division -- more than a decade after he became a relevant name. Not only is Arlovski on pace to end up as the all-time winningest heavyweight in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, but he has put himself in the running with monstrous finishes more often than not. The fanged, hirsute heavyweight remains one of the most intimidating visages in the history of the sport, and with a solid record against some of the statistically toughest competition across several generations, his fierce appearance is only matched by the ferocity of his performances.

CASE AGAINST: Arlovski has more than a few obstacles confounding his claim as the Greatest of All-Time. First, there is the towering dilemma of being on the wrong side of the rivalry with Sylvia. Arlovski went 1-2 with one no-contest in the quatrain, with the rubber match being one of the worst fights the division has ever seen. His wins over Werdum and Mir were also duds that rust away some of the sheen of his terrific finishes, making him one of the more volatile fighters on the list. More significant, though, is his painfully brittle jaw, which has led him face first to the canvas in the majority of his losses. He has been good, even great, for a long time now, but he has never been the greatest, and it does not look like that will be changing any time soon.

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