During his 13-year pro career, Andrei Arlovski is a man who has seen his ups and downs. Working his way from obscurity to UFC heavyweight champion, the Belarusian parted ways with the promotion in 2008 and then suffered four consecutive losses from January 2009 to February 2011 -- a stretch that prompted some to call for his retirement.
In response, “The Pit Bull” has posted three wins and a no contest in his last four fights, most recently knocking out International Fight League veteran Devin Cole on Nov. 3 at the World Series of Fighting’s debut event in Las Vegas.
Arlovski will attempt to capture his fourth win in five outings when he squares off with former Cage Warriors Fighting Champion Mike Hayes in the Fight Nights 9 "Battle of Moscow" headliner at the Dynamo Sports Palace in Moscow. The event streams live on pay-per-view on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT and can be purchased through Sherdog.com for 99 cents. The first 100 people to order the pay-per-view will receive a coupon that can be redeemed to cover the price of purchase.
Arlovski has also begun a film career in recent years, most notably appearing in a pair of “Universal Soldier” sequels. The latter film, dubbed “Day of Reckoning,” is currently running in theaters nationwide and stars Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and Arlovski.
Recently, the heavyweight spoke to Sherdog.com on a variety of topics, including his on-screen character, his move to the Albuquerque, N.M.-based Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts camp and his goals for the remainder of his fight career.
Sherdog.com: As I recall, most of your fight scenes in “Universal Soldier: Regeneration” centered on hand-to-hand, somewhat MMA-based combat. In “Day of Reckoning,” you can be found swinging a giant ax and clubbing your co-stars with a baseball bat, in addition to firing a shotgun from a moving vehicle. What was this experience like for you?
Arlovski: It was definitely a lot of fun. I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s just like being a little kid and getting some very cool toys, you know?
Sherdog.com: Your fight scenes were not the only thing that changed between the two films. In your first appearance as a UniSol, you were kind of like the Terminator in that you were this emotionless, unstoppable force. In the new film, you are much wilder, screaming during your fight scenes and showing rage and pain on your face. Was it fun to let loose like that instead of being so stoic?
Arlovski: Yeah, but I wish that I had had at least a couple of lines. I don’t want to be like furniture, you know? I just needed to scream and punch and kill people, but, for sure, it was a lot of fun.
Sherdog.com: We know you love fighting, otherwise you would not have come back this way and rededicated yourself after losing those four fights in a row. I’m curious: once you started acting, did you develop a similar love for it like you possess for MMA?
Arlovski: It’s definitely two different things. With MMA, somebody might punch you or hurt you, and that’s why, before the fight, you are so focused and sometimes nervous. With the movies, I knew everything was going to be on schedule. We did a lot of repetitions before we filmed the scenes, and I knew what I had to do. Of course, I was nervous, but it was a lot of fun and it was great to make some extra money between fights. If somebody wants me to be in another movie, of course, I would not even think twice. I would take this opportunity and be in a movie again.
Sherdog.com: That’s interesting, because I thought I read somewhere that you didn’t want to do anymore movies after this one in order to focus solely on MMA. Am I off-base?
Arlovski: No, it’s just that I don’t want to be in a movie for just a couple of minutes if it’s going to keep me from my MMA career. For now, of course I’m going to choose MMA, because MMA pays all my bills. I have to decide and find the right combination. For example, if someone wants me to be in a movie, of course I have to consider who else is going to be in this movie and what is next for me in MMA. I’m not scared to work hard, I just think that everything is supposed to be in the right time and at the right place for me right now.
Sherdog.com: If you were cast in your ideal role, who would you really like to work with?
Arlovski: I think one of the actors would be Jason Statham and, of course, [Sylvester] Stallone and [Arnold] Schwarzenegger. Those guys are big names, and, in the movies, they are legends.
Sherdog.com: Did you grow up watching those guys?
Arlovski: Of course. When I was a kid, I had all of the posters of Van Damme, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris.
Sherdog.com: Turning to your fighting career, it seems like everyone wants to talk about your relationship with your trainer, Greg Jackson. What are some of the specific things he has been able to teach you since you’ve joined his camp?
Arlovski: He’s helping me to be mentally strong. It’s definitely a great place to train, because there are a lot of good fighters there, and one of them is my good friend Travis Browne. I have to be ready for hard training and for hard sparring, and that is just what I like. Greg Jackson is one of the guys who believed in me. When I asked him if I should retire, he told me, “Absolutely not. You just need to come to Albuquerque, and I know it is possible to help you climb back on top and be champion again one day.” He gave me the power to believe in myself, because he told me I was still young and have lots of energy and that I should try one more time.
Sherdog.com: In a previous interview with us, you said you were initially a little skeptical of what Greg might be able to teach you. What was your impression of him?
Arlovski: When I first started training one-one-one with Greg, he showed me some really cool stuff, and I thought, “Wow, he is always in a good mood and always educating himself.” I could just tell he was a really great guy.
Sherdog.com: In my opinion, you have shown improvement in each of your last four fights. Granted, you aren’t in there with guys like Junior dos Santos or Cain Velasquez, but I do think people are noticing that you are looking much more comfortable and aggressive. How do you see yourself climbing back to the top of the mountain and rejoining the Top 5? That would obviously mean returning to the UFC at some point. How do you see yourself pulling it off?
Arlovski: Everything is up to Greg Jackson, and we’ll take it one step at a time, you know? That’s why I’m going to move to Albuquerque next year. I’m going to spend more time in the gym over there, because right now it’s hard to travel between Chicago and Albuquerque, since my family is still here [in Chicago]. Next year, I’m going to bring my family to Albuquerque. I just want to spend more time in the gym, because I want to train more. I’m going to take it one step at a time, because it’s going to take a couple of years. That’s fine. I’m ready. If it takes more, I’m ready. Right now, I just want to do everything right and listen to Greg Jackson. I trust him 100 percent.
Sherdog.com: If you could have only one more fight in your career, whom would you fight? It can be a rematch or someone new.
Arlovski: Definitely [Fedor] Emelianenko. But it’s bad for me, because he retired, and I would have to call him back from retirement to fight him again. But, also, all the people who I lost to, I want to fight with them again.