Former UFC heavyweight champion and MMA legend Andrei Arlovski returns to action this Saturday at UFC 271 when he takes on the up-and-coming Dana White’s Contender series winner Jared Vanderaa.
Fight fans can order the UFC 271 PPV to watch every fight live this Saturday night including the Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker title fight.
Arlovski, a veteran of the UFC octagon since the year 2000, has shown fans many looks over his long career. With championship highs and stretched-out low periods, with everything in between, Arlovski currently sits inside the UFC heavyweight division knocking off young challengers not prepared of the best yet, and only being beaten by the budding best. Arlovski most recently defeated Carlos Felipe by unanimous decision last year.
Vanderaa, a former EFC champion as well as SMASH global champion, made his UFC debut in 2021 after his victory on the Contender Series. Although he has lost two in his three fights so far, his UFC victory came over Justin Tafa, an always tough fighter, and fellow upcoming prospect. However, Arlovski represents a new kind of challenge for him and a large step up in competition, it will be for Vanderaa to step up to the occasion.
Arlovski as the UFC’s grizzled vet, will come into the bout as a decently sized -152 favorite over Vanderaa.
- Andrei Arlovski: -152
- Jared Vanderaa: +124
Andrei Arlovski has historically been feared in the octagon for his striking, and more specifically his boxing ability. Earlier in his career, he was a bit more wild and unpredictable in his attack but in more recent years he has developed a bursting and reset style seen often by the Jackson-Wink Heavyweight veterans. Often Arlovski will look to burst in with multiple punches, directed in a linear fashion, and the circle and reset after the exchange. He also often looks to fake the low right in order to come forward and initiate his forward sprint with the tricky left hook.
However, part of the reason he has adopted this style is that his movement itself is a bit more rigid in this latter section of his career. He tends to find more difficulty in removing his head from the centerline as he enters, and his punches tend to come from his shoulder rather than chaining together the body mechanics from his feet to his hips and then the shoulders as one would normally look to do. The most challenging part of this is that Arlovski sometimes doesn’t get to utilize the full extent of his reach which is why his burst forward is particularly important.
Vanderaa is a great striker in his own fight, and opposite to Arlovski, his fluidity is actually his greatest strength. Vanderaa has good boxing, doesn’t always move his head enough but makes up for it by maintaining range with his surprisingly loose kicks for a man his size. His skipping front low kick is quick and fills gaps in space when it seems he is unengaged, and his rear body kick is quick, powerful, and chained easily onto the end of a number of combinations. His jab in particular will be an important weapon as if he can use it to get in and out quickly, in a back and forth exchange he may be able to use his looseness and speed to win out against Arlovski. However, if he is too hesitant and provides too much room for Arlovski to reset and burst he loses this advantage.
That being said, Arlovski’s real greatest advantage is his craft veteran fight IQ. Although dominantly a striker, Arlovski, especially now knows how to cater his fight style to the opponent, and with his background in Sambo and years of MMA grappling going this route is a great idea against Vanderaa. Vanderaa has so far struggled against two of his three UFC opponents, being TKOed on the floor, mostly due to being one step behind once it hits the mat. His use of range makes it sometimes difficult to take him down but Arlovski’s burst may allow him to push Vanderaa into the cage and hence the clinch, where Arlovski has a great outside trip from the over-under position. On the mat Vanderaa has shown to make some mistakes, going for ill-informed submission attempts without much control of the position, especially the hips. Arlovski has shown a good ability to control position, and take his time which will be key in this match-up.
I believe that on the feet should it remain there, a slight edge goes to Vanderaa. There should be moments where he is caught off guard by Arlovski’s tactical burst timing but if the two end up in extended exchanges, the flow and kicks of Vanderaa will make his more varied attack more effective. Ultimately, however, the takedown and grappling make up the largest difference in skill level, and as the crafty veteran, he is I think that Andrei Arlovski finds a way to maintain that game plan and come out on top.
Prediction: Andrei Arlovski to win
You can order the UFC 271 PPV on ESPN+ here to watch Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 and the entire fight card live this Saturday, January 12 in the United States.