Former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski makes his octagon return on June 14 at UFC 174 against Brendan Schaub.

Return of the Pitbull

The re-signing of the 35 year old Belarusan Pitbull was a surprise to many UFC fans. Arlovski left the UFC in 2008 to join the then formed-MMA outfit Affliction. He won his first two bouts under Affliction by stopping Ben Rothwell and Roy Nelson. He then lost via KO to former Strikeforce Heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko in his third bout.

His move to Strikeforce in 2009 was a major career disaster. He lost three straight bouts and was staring at retirement. He has since gone 6-1 with one no contest, and three knockouts. The resurgence caught the eye of UFC president Dana White who immediately gave Arlovski the second opportunity once his team came knocking at the UFC’s door.

White said that it was Arlovski who left the UFC back in 2008 because he had a better deal with Affliction. White added that he has no grudges against “people who try to better their lives.” White added that he has a lot of respect for Arlovski and his people.  And because he has proven that he can still compete at the elite level, there was no reason not to take him back.

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion

Arlovski first won the interim UFC Heavyweight title in 2005 when he submitted Tim Sylvia. He defended it twice before getting knocked out by Sylvia in their rematch at UFC 59. Sylvia once again defeated Arlovksi at UFC 61 to close their UFC rivalry in 2006.

The duo would once again face off at One FC: Pride of a Nation in Manila, Philippines on August 31,2012. The bout ended as a no contest when Arlovski struck Sylvia with a kick while on the ground. But that and his loss to Anthony Rumble Johnson in WSOF 2 were the only blots in his last eight bouts. Arlovski has a record of 21-10 with one no contest and 15 KOs.

Not His Nemesis

When news of Arlovski’s UFC return broke out, people were speculating that the UFC would also be bringing back hi nemesis Tim Sylvia. But Dana White was quick to say no and pointed out that while Arlovski is back on the winning track, Sylvia’s career is on a downward spiral. Sylvia is 0-3-1 in his last four contests.

Fighting the Hybrid

For his UFC return, Arlovski faces #14 ranked Heavyweight contender Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub. Schaub wasa former professional football player with the AFL’s Utah Blaze. He was the runner-up in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights reality TV show, losing to Big Country Roy Nelson in the finals via first round knockout.

But he rebounded from the TUF loss by winning four straight UFC bouts, three by knockout. His victims included Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Filipovic. But Schaub lost two straight bouts to Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera and Ben Rothwell and sent him reeling back in the rankings. Once again, Schaub has racked up two successive wins and he hopes to add Arlovski to his growing list of victims. Schaub has a record of 10-3 with 7 knockouts.

Arlovski left the UFC on a three fight winning streak that included a win over current number 1 heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum. His last tormentor Anthony Rumble Johnson has also made a successful return to the UFC. A lot of big fights and story lines lie ahead of Arlovski if he can prove on June 14 that Belarus’ most famous Pitbull still has the bite to take a chunk off the UFC heavyweight picture.

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