Interview: Andrei Arlovski Talks Lessons Learned and Future Goals in Strikeforce

by Cage Potato contributor Matt Kaplan

With his new Strikeforce deal completed, it seems like “The Pitbull” might soon be barking up a couple of old trees.

Popular Strikeforce heavyweight Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski (15-7) is set to take on Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on May 15, and while he isn’t looking past the big Brazilian, he understands that a win over Silva could put him in position to avenge his devastating 2009 losses to Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers in the not-so-far future.

Since his June loss to Rogers, Arlovski has murdered Mike Pyle, beaten up a bully, done a ton of video blogging, and trained with some of the best camps in MMA. Arlovski recently signed a new multi-fight deal with Strikeforce, and the former UFC heavyweight champ is looking to avoid a third straight loss. Arlovski has lost two consecutive fights three times in his career, and if history teaches us anything, it’s that 1) the first man killed in the American Revolution was Crispus Attucks, and 2) after back-to-back losses, Arlovski quickly goes back to crushing people. The sometimes hairy, always scary Arlovski says he has a few scores to settle in Strikeforce, but before he can do that, he needs history to repeat itself on May 15 against “Bigfoot.”

Kaplan: You’ve announced on your 16-month, multi-fight deal with Strikeforce. Exactly how many fights are you hoping to have in the coming 16 months?

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Arlovski: I hope to have four fights in the next 16 months. The first one is against “Bigfoot” Silva on May 15.

In the eight months that you were out of MMA competition, was your focus on a return to the cage, or were you considering other pursuits?

I worked on many things and one of them was getting back in the cage. I spent quite a bit of time training and working on technique. I also took a month to film Universal Soldier 3 and had a fun exhibition boxing match with Fres Oquendo in Miami at The Blacks’ Annual Gala.

Are you still concentrating heavily on boxing?

I have definitely been focusing on my MMA overall, but I do enjoy improving my boxing every day. I am working on my grappling, BJJ, wrestling.

Your first challenge after some time off is a big one. Share with us your impressions on “Bigfoot” Silva. What special challenge does he present to you?

My impression is that he is a tough guy. Silva has long arms, heavy hands, and is very good at BJJ. All of my fights have been tough ones, so I am just going to have to put together the best game plan and overcome any challenges.

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What prompted you to spend time with the Greg Jackson camp for this fight?

I got introduced to Greg Jackson through some friends in the fight world. I thought that it would be a good idea to learn something different, to add to my training in Chicago, and to work with some new, talented sparring partners.

What do you feel has been the biggest benefit of your time with Jackson?

I was interested in learning from him. He is a very well respected coach, and I really enjoyed my time in New Mexico. Greg helped teach me some really good combinations, and I got the opportunity to train some with Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, and some other great members of their team.

Do you plan on spending more time with that camp?

I had planned on going out there a few weeks ago, but that trip got canceled because he was busy with GSP. I ended up going out and spending some time at AKA in San Jose, and that was a great experience as well.

You said on your website that you’re eager to show everyone what you “have been working on the last few months.” What changes can fans expect to see?

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Matt, you are just going to have to wait till May 15 for that one. But thank you for listening to my live video chats.

Your last two fights ended in KO losses to Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers. What did you take away from those losses?

Keep my hands up and don’t try the flying knee (smiles).

Is a rematch with Fedor and/or Brett important to you? Has there been any discussion of either with Strikeforce?

Honestly, I need to take things one step at a time. I just signed my contract and I need to get a win with “Bigfoot” Silva before I can even think about a rematch with Fedor or Rogers. But yes, I would eventually like a rematch with both of them.

How do you see the Strikeforce heavyweight division?

Strong. I have some unfinished business to do there.

Overall, what do you hope to accomplish during the next 16 months of your Strikeforce tenure? After that?

I have no idea after that. I want to succeed and win and have some exciting fights over the next 16 months. Who knows, maybe that will include a rematch with Rogers and/or Fedor.