On a recent episode of Inside MMA, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski made the following statement:
Before my fight against (Fabricio) Werdum, the UFC promised me a title shot.”
Clearly, that did not happen. To make matters worse, the man Arlovski defeated at UFC 70 in April, Werdum, has been promised a title shot against the winner of the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Tim Sylvia match-up for the interim heavyweight championship.
How does Werdum get a title shot when the man that defeated him is stuck in a mid-card match-up at UFC 82 against Jake O’Brien? The answer is simple: Arlovski has only one fight left on his contract. Therefore, by putting the “Pit Bull” against the accomplished wrestler O’Brien, the UFC puts Arlovski in a very bad spot.
Should Arlovski defeat O’Brien, the victory does very little to advance Arlovski’s career. O’Brien does not have anywhere near the same name recognition as some of Arlovski’s prior victories (Tim Sylvia, Paul Buentello, Werdum, etc.), and the fight most likely will not be very exciting. O’Brien’s smothering style can lead to very boring fights (see: O’Brien’s decision victory against Heath Herring).
However, should O’Brien defeat Arlovski, Arlovski’s reputation and bargaining power with the UFC or someone else is damaged. Had Arlovski re-signed with the UFC prior to this match-up, I highly doubt they would put him in the octagon with O’Brien. There are much more exciting fights available. Fights with Nogueira or even Mirko Cro Cop are match-ups the fans have waited many years to see.
Since the Arlovski vs. O’Brien fight is official, Arlovski re-signing with the UFC appears unlikely. Arlovski has never been a fighter to back down from anyone, and he will have many options available. With potential opponents like Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett lurking out there and not under contract to the UFC, Arlovski can certainly put himself into a real main event fight in the not-so-distant future.