File Photo: Sherdog.com
Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward.
Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski hopes that's the case as he prepares to face Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on the Strikeforce “Heavy Artillery” card in St. Louis this Saturday.
Coming off first-round knockout losses to Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers, the 31-year-old Arlovski (15-7) and his management decided a change of scenery was in order.
"After my loss to (Rogers), I talked to my trainers and they sort of gave me an ultimatum," Arlovski said in a recent conference call. "They told me that I needed to look for different trainers. Now I have become more disciplined. In my fight against Rogers, I didn't stick with my game plan. I didn't take Rogers seriously, and he knocked me out."
The discussion with his camp led to a two-week stint with Greg Jackson in November 2009 before he returned to Chicago to train with his primary team, Team Pitbull. Then, in March, Arlovski traveled to San Jose, Calif., the home of American Kickboxing Academy, for another two-week stint. While he was there, Arlovski worked with Cain Velasquez and Mike Kyle among others.
"My manager spoke with Bob Cook and they set up a camp for me at AKA," said Arlovski. "I was very excited about that. I had a chance to train with all of the guys from AKA before I came back to Chicago. I'm very excited about what I learned. I got a lot of experience from (Jackson) and San Jose. I hope now I'm a better fighter. I hope I'm a different fighter. I can say I'm more disciplined and will stick with my game plan. No more going straight back and putting my hands down like how it was against Rogers."
Along with going to different training camps, Arlovski changed things up outside of the cage as well.
"It's embarrassing to say, but I worked with a sports psychologist (after the Rogers loss) and changed a lot of things in my life," said Arlovski. "Now I'm just focusing on my MMA career, training hard, eating and sleeping. I'm just focused on my MMA career. My mind was on pro boxing when I fought Rogers, but now my focus is on MMA."
Arlovski has had nine months to dwell on his loss to Rogers and said he wants nothing more than to beat Silva and put the past behind him.
"Those two losses cost me a lot, so I have to climb back to the top," said Arlovski. "Everybody was like, 'Wow!' when (Rogers) beat me in 20 seconds. I didn't take the fight seriously and now I've been on the bench nine months. I've been miserable. I need to stick with my game plan and be more disciplined. I just have to go out, do what works well and stick with my game plan."
One thing is for sure, though. Arlovski will be going back to AKA to train again for his next fight.
"Everybody at AKA was very friendly," said Arlovski. "I remember Bob Cook really pushing me through some of their conditioning workouts. It was a great experience for me, a great camp and I definitely will go again."
Silva (13-2) is coming off a decision loss to Fabricio Werdum on Strikeforce's November 2009 card and he said he'll be ready for a revamped Arlovski.
"(Arlovski) seems like he's completely renovated," Silva said through a translator during the conference call. "I'm also like that due to my hard training camp. I think the public will gain from this fight because I don't think it will go the distance. Since I started training with my old coach again, I've focused on my striking and I'm going to be looking for his head.
"I hope it stays standing. He's been knocked out in his last two fights, so I hope to exploit that."