Andrei Arlovski was minutes away from winning his second consecutive bout after dropping two tough losses to Tim “The Maniac” Sylvia. Although a boring performance, Arlovski was able to pull out a win over the Brazilian ju-jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum. The coming months would be cast with doubt as to when Arlovski would fight next. The Belarussian went from being the in the contender position again to completely out of the picture in a six month span. What has happened to Andrei Arlovski?
Dana White and Arlovski’s management
During the media conference, Dana White was asked about whether Arlovski had “pissed off” the UFC President and if that was the reason why he was currently not fighting. We have learned in the past few months that Arlovski is actually on the last fight on his current UFC contract. White stated:
He hasn’t been forgotten, Andrei’s kind of sitting on the bench… I want to get him back in the mix if his guys want to talk. I’ll fly to Chicago and talk to them right now.“
The comment was in regards to a Chicago reporter commenting that he had the impression from Arlovski’s camp that the UFC Heavyweight was ready to fight and was awaiting an offer from the UFC for a new contract. White seemed surprised. Apparently there seems to be a gap between Dana White, Arlovski’s management, and Andrei himself. This could almost be compared to what people have typically thought about the entire Fedor Emelianenko situation. Many fans have been convinced that Fedor really did not have any idea as to what Vadim Finkelstein was demanding on top of Fedor’s demands during their negotiations. Is this a similar situation?
From the odd discrepancies in each party’s comments, there may be some merit to the argument that Arlovski’s management isn’t doing all they can to get Andrei back in the cage. White stated that he would drop everything and head to Chicago to speak with his management, so the assumption is that he has wanted to bring Arlovski back into the cage as soon as a new deal is struck. If a new deal is what is stopping the return of Andrei, Arlovski’s stance in the division is obviously fairly high. The UFC typically keeps guys in a position where they must sign if they are in the running for a title shot because the UFC does not want a fighter obtaining the title and then vacating the title for more money from a different promotion. Andrei must be looking for more money for a deal that Dana White may be seeing as ridiculous because of Andrei’s lackluster performance and overall record in the UFC. Should Andrei receive more money?
Is Arlovski worth more now?
Arlovski has been one of the top heavyweights in the division for a long time, but he has recently had some hard luck in the cage when running into the big man, Tim Sylvia. Along with his bouts against the Iowa native, he’s compiled a 2-2 record in his last 4 fights. Primarily known as a great striker with knockout power, Arlovski is now turning to his management team to convince White that he deserves a bigger piece of the pie. I have a feeling White’s comments about his last matchup have echoed into the boardroom when both parties begin talking about their next contract. White stated during the media conference that Andrei Arlovski’s performance against Fabricio Werdum was rather boring… and it was. One boring performance and White is throwing Arlovski out the window? I believe it goes deeper than that.
With all the recent acquisitions, re-signing, and surges of talent in the Heavyweight division, Arlovski’s value definitely plummeted without him even being in the cage. Cheick Kongo has become a force with his size, strength, and striking even though his ground game has yet to be exposed. Tim Sylvia is back injury-free and has always been a tough test for Andrei. Additionally, Frank Mir is on the comeback trail, PRIDE veteran Antonio Nogueira is at the top of the heap with all the talent and skill he possesses, and Brandon Vera is also back after a long contract dispute and managerial change. Add in Brock Lesnar as a huge load for anyone to take on and you have a division that may be very deep without Arlovski in it at the moment. With all of that talent, I still feel Arlovski’s striking is a huge asset in the division.
In a report from Steve Sievert, Joe Silva made some comments regarding the negotiations. To sum it all up in a sentence, Silva basically stated that Arlovski had nowhere to really go and that the UFC needed to make a contract that made sense for them. Translation: Arlovski’s worth has fallen and he doesn’t deserve the big money. Is reality, is this somewhat true at all? I agree with it to an extent. Arlovski’s worth has fallen a bit while sitting the sideline. His absence didn’t help him much as far as being in the spotlight as far as a shot at the title went. With Couture coming back out of retirement and obtaining the belt, the whole picture changed at the top of the division. The big signings of PRIDE veterans also changed the potential matchups and ways of obtaining a title shot. The UFC definitely made it obvious that the PRIDE fighters coming in would see a potential shot at the title in a much shorter timespan than usual. Add that up along with Arlovski’s absence and it equals a forgotten heavyweight striker that has always excited the crowd with the exception of his last fight.
Does he deserve the big money? His recent contract had him earning $90,000 to fight with a $55,000 dollar win bonus. We don’t know if he had any pay-per-view bonuses that were related to the buyrates of each event he was on. Fighters like Chuck Liddell are being paid $500,000 to fight and lose, Sylvia was paid $200,000 and Vera $100,000 in their recent matchup and Vera lost. What kind of money should Arlovski be getting? He should at least be getting a contract that is equivalent to that of Vera. Vera would have likely doubled his salary with the win. Arlovski’s UFC 66 salary didn’t seem to do so. The UFC should at least give him a decent guarantee on fights for the year and give him a base $100,000 salary for each fight. Make it up to his performance if he can double that, and he should already be aware of the “Knockout of the Night” bonus. Performance-based contracts are the way to go if he wants such a large increase in pay and the UFC isn’t willing to give it without results.
My inkling is that Andrei’s management is wanting more money that isn’t based on performance, a larger base salary. Anything over $100,000 seems a bit much considering he has dropped his status in the division that seems to have a lot of fighters that have opposite styles to his and are very good at those styles. Arlovski needs to sign a performance-based contract and prove to the world that he deserves more. Give him a smaller contract in terms of length and see what he can do. We all want to see him in the cage again, and I think a powerful striker is a nice prospect to have near the top for the fans to get excited about.