“The Pit Bull” Sinks His Teeth into the UFC Heavyweight Title

By Mike Sloan Feb 15, 2005
Last week in one of the featured bouts of UFC 51, Belarus’ mixed martial arts warrior Andrei Arlovski abruptly derailed former champion Tim Sylvia’s hopes of regaining that lost title. The bout, which was originally planned for UFC 47 back in April of 2004, was arranged in such a manner that the winner would not only align himself with a shot at Frank Mir’s heavyweight belt, but he would also walk home with the “interim” title.

Arlovski stole the show and forced Sylvia to submit to an afflictive ankle lock, prompting the hulking “Maine-iac” to tap in under a minute.

The ankle lock was a gift from the fistic gods as Sylvia had already been deposited onto his backside, woozy and dizzy from a sinister counter overhand right courtesy of the hungry “Pit Bull.” The punch almost single-handedly ended the fight, but Arlovski was too keen and realized that Sylvia was not out cold from the crushing fist he planted on his jaw.

“I did think that I knocked him out and I was ready for the referee to stop the fight,” Arlovski said exclusively to Sherdog.com. “However, it was not over yet, so I went down to finish the fight.”

But the typically sturdy Sylvia was not knocked into next week and Arlovski knew he had to act quickly in order to resolve the Octagonal dispute. According to Arlovski, he knew the ankle lock was what would finish the fight, so he immediately grabbed Sylvia’s feet.

“It was [my intention to apply the ankle lock],” he replied. “I was looking for a right moment to do it.”

Sylvia, trying in vain to escape the lock, knew he was up the river without a paddle as nothing he tried seemed to work. Eventually he succumbed to not only the agonizing pain that occurs when ankle joints are being twisted, the Miletich fighter was also intelligent enough to tapout, escaping any serious damage.

(Sylvia, of course, was a tad too pertinacious when he dueled Mir last year and wound up with a shattered forearm, but this time he knew better.)

Sylvia, his camp and his fans were surprised at how quickly the fight ended and that Arlovski had beaten him to the punch. Many a ringside expert had chosen Sylvia to win the contest, but Arlovski was in the zone. While the outcome of the battle was relatively terse, Arlovski was not amazed.

“I had trained hard for this fight,” he quipped. “I was ready to win the fight and I did. So I was not surprised [by how quickly it ended].”

“As Andrei told before his latest fight,” intervened Nikolay Travkin of www.rmax.tv, Andrei’s co-manager and the man who helped translate his replies, “he was ready not only to fight, but to do it in a special way in order for all MMA fans to be excited. Andrei did what he promised, and he thanks his fans for supporting him.”

And support Arlovski they will, no matter whom he faces next. There are a few rumors being circulated that Arlovski will be locking horns with “real” champ Mir at UFC 53, but nothing is confirmed. According to UFC president Dana White while he spoke after the post-fight press conference, he is not sure when Mir will be able to return, if at all. Neither White nor Mir’s doctors are certain as to when his broken leg will heal from an injury that could be career threatening.

Coming from Arlovski, he hasn’t been informed of any possible opponents if Mir cannot return to action anytime soon. Nothing has been presented to Arlovski and the Mir battle at UFC 53 rumor appears to be nothing but a pipe dream at best.

But if the UFC can’t arrange a showdown with Mir if he is still not fully healed and if the organization is unable to find a worthy challenger, Arlovski could always fly across the Pacific Ocean and battle Fedor Emelianenko. If not Fedor, PRIDE has a slew of top heavyweights who are regarded as the best in the weight class from most MMA experts. Arlovski is undeterred and is loyal to Zuffa.

“I work with UFC now,” he said. “And at the present time I don’t have any plans of leaving this organization.”

If that’s the case, MMA fans will have to live with it. There are plenty of formidable heavyweights within the UFC ranks to give Arlovski a run for his money, even if Mir, Fedor, Nogueira and Cro Cop are unavailable. Rematches with Pedro Rizzo and Ricco Rodriguez, two men who hold wins over the Belarusian bruiser, make for compelling match ups, as do young studs Mike Kyle and Paul Buentello.

However, none of that matters to Arlovski as he just wants to fight whomever, whenever. “That question is not for me, but for my management team,” he said matter-of-factly. “That question is for Zuffa.”

“Andrei is ready to fight,” Travkin replied. “He is not only in a very good shape, but he also has more surprises for his next opponent [whoever he will be]. MMA fans will be not disappointed.”

Whatever path he is led down since his “interim” title-winning tussle with Sylvia, Arlovski will continue to stay focused, train and read. As he stated in the interview, the music-loving Arlovski spends much of his free time reading.

And apparently much of his spare time was spent devising devilish guises for his teeth. Arlovski revealed his sharpened mouthpiece that sported fangs once he dispatched Sylvia, an ornament of fight gear probably never before seen in the game. However, to end the debate as to why he opted to wear a fanged mouth guard, the answer is not because he likes vampires (like some in the ringside MMA media section elaborated).

One supposed “expert” came to the conclusion that since the famous Dracula is allegedly from Belarus, Arlovski decided to show his vampire roots with the fangs. Of course, Dracula (or Vlad Dracul) was from Budapest, Hungary and not Minsk.

To Arlovski, the reason was not vampires, Dracula or sucking blood. It was a simple one, he offered: “My nickname: Pit Bull.”
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