What’s Next For Andrei Arlovski?

One of the stranger sports stories of the past is that of Rick Ankiel. Ankiel became a vital cog in the starting rotation of the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals and as a lefthanded pitcher possessing both velocity and wicked breaking stuff his upside was unlimited. As the playoffs began, injuries had decimated the Cards starting rotation forcing Tony LaRussa to use Ankiel as the game 1 starter against the Atlanta Braves and their ace, Greg Maddux. In the course of an inning, it all fell apart for Rick Ankiel’s career as a starting pitcher. In the third inning of game one, working with a 6-0 lead, Ankiel allowed 2 hits, 4 walks and 5 wild pitches before being pulled with two outs. Initially, he wrote it off as a bad outing until history quickly repeated itself in game 2 of the NLCS against the NY Mets. He threw only 20 pitches in that game, 5 of which went past catcher Eli Marrero. For the next several years he tried to fix the control problems that suddenly manifest themselves on baseballs biggest stage but was unable to do so. Compounding the frustration of Ankiel and his team was the fact that his control problems weren’t physical or mechanical, but strictly psychological.

Andrei Arlovski has experienced the opposite problem”after starting his career as the Belarusian wildman who devastated opponents with his aggressive, free swinging style and KO power he suddenly gained too *much* control. After trading victories with Tim Sylvia and two short, explosive and exciting bouts, a rubber match was scheduled for UFC 61 and during the fight disaster struck: Arlovski all of a sudden became a tentative and boring fighter.

After a layoff of nearly 6th months, Arlovski returned to the octagon and scored a first round KO of overmatched Marcio Cruz. Another snoozefest ensued at UFC 70, where he decisioned Fabrico Werdum. Arlovskis contract with the UFC was up about this time and Zuffa management quickly made clear that they had no interest in resigning him.

During the past few years many questions have been raised about Arlovskis desire to continue his fighting career and several retirement rumors have made the rounds. While it would be difficult to blame Arlovski for enjoying the life hes made for himself, this lack of hunger isnt a good mindset for a professional prizefighter.

Arlovski insists that hes anxious to continue his MMA career and has enlisted the services of one of boxings best trainers, Freddy Roach. Roach has been charged with trying to find a middle ground with Arlovski, somewhere between the wildly reckless style of his early career and the tentative, plodding style of his recent fights. Furthermore, Arlovski has also appeared to have trouble letting his hands go of late and if Roach cant fix these problems no one can. Theres even been talk of Arlovski pursuing a career as a heavyweight boxer which makes a good deal of sense. Arlovskis more tactical striking game would serve him well in the sweet science and the wide open heavyweight division means that he could quickly put himself in a position of a contender.

Baseball fans know that the Rick Ankiel saga has taken a positive turn of late. After giving up his pitching career in 2005, Ankiel transitioned to the outfield and has reached the major leagues *again* at his new position. Maybe this is the type of change that Arlovski needs and one that boxing would afford him. Unlike some of the other fighters that the rapidly changing sport has left behind, Arlovski has the youth and the skill set to transition into boxing where his standup skills would serve him well. It could be that Arlovski still has the heart and desire to fight, but needs to change sports to get back to a championship level of competition.

Ross Everett is a freelance sports writer and respected authority on baseball betting. His writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sportsbooks and sportsbook directory sites. He lives in Southern Nevada with three Jack Russell Terriers and a kangaroo. He is currently working on an autobiography of former energy secretary Donald Hodell.

categories: UFC,Ultimate Fighting Championships,MMA,mixed martial arts,fight sports

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