Andrei Arlovski, age 37, lost to Josh Barnett, age 38, in a battle of two tenured former UFC Heavyweight Champions yesterday in Germany. He’s looking on the bright side of the loss. “At least he didn’t knock me out,” he told the media at the post-fight press conference. “He choked me. He has great wrestling submission skills. He was the better man tonight.”
The back and forth battle almost ended within the first 20 seconds, with each landing shots that rocked the other and wobbled their legs. In the end, Barnett’s superior ground and submission game led to Arlovski tapping to a rear naked choke just mid-way into the five round fight. Arlovski was exhausted and had taken a lot of punishment by that point.
Arlovski has lost three in a row to top tier competition (Alistair Overeem and current champ Stipe Miocic before Barnett), but had won six in a row before that against largely mid-level competition. After 38 fights (25-13), he’s not ready to retire.
“I’m gonna take some time off and I’m gonna come back stronger,” he said.
After the fight, Barnett called Arlovski over and raised his arm and congratulated him. There is mutual respect between the two veterans who have travelled the world since entering MMA in the late ’90s. Arlovski, though, was visibly disappointed in the loss. He said he wasn’t disappointed in his effort, though.
“No so much,” he said when asked if he was disappointed in himself. “It is what it is. We’re going to see what’s going on with our coaches and see what went wrong with my camp. I’m still top ten. I still have fire in my eyes so, I’m still ready to go.”
Cervantes Analysis: As noted by Barnett in defense of Arlovski’s loss, Arlovski has only fallen to top 10 fighters in his last few bouts. In his last three fights, he has lost to the current heavyweight champion, the number one contender for that title, and now Barnett, so it isn’t as if he’s losing against soft competitors. Because of the ever-changing landscape of this division, Arlovski could go back to the drawing board, learn to be more reserved in his approach, and potentially make another run. He’s done it before and we have plenty of reason to believe he is capable of doing it again.
[MMATorch editor Wade Keller contributed to this report.]