Long-time veteran and former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski returns to the octagon against brash and rising heavyweight contender Carlos Felipe this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 195.
Arlovski, 42 has long been amongst the top 10 heavyweights in the world, seeing mixed results in the promotion for the better part of the last decade. However a consistent theme in Arlovski’s fights has been as he has developed into his latter years of fighting, a more composed and strategic fighter has emerged. He is currently 3-1 in his last four, coming off a victory over Chase Sherman earlier this year.
His opponent, Carlos Felipe has wasted little time calling his shots in the octagon. With a pro record of 11-1 including a UFC stint of 3-1, he has been near perfect in terms of his results. Before beating Jake Collier in his most recent matchup, Felipe called out Greg Hardy, a big name to put out there before even winning his fight. But he did, in a back and forth heavyweight classic. Instead of Hardy, Felipe was awarded an even more prestigious name in Arlovski, a big name on a big stage, but the question remains whether he can take advantage of it or not.
Arlovski vs. Felipe Betting Odds
Both men will come into the fight at an even -115. This means that regardless of who you side with it will require a bet of $115 to return a prize of $100.
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Arlovski vs. Felipe Breakdown
Andre Arlovski, the veteran he is, has seen many different looks as a fighter over the years. It is not a stretch to say that what he has lost in youth and athleticism he has gained in fight IQ and experience.
In more recent years Arlovski has looked stiffer than he did when he was younger, which often leaves his head on the centerline when he engages. He primarily favors a boxing style, although with his background in Sambo, takedowns are always in the back pocket should he choose to go there.
As is the case for many larger fighters out of the Jackson-Wink camp, Arlovski has developed a style where he will quickly move out of range and reset often. His former teammate Alister Overeem became associated with literally turning his back and running back to the center to reset himself, Arlovski does something similar although he typically does a sort of classic boxing dance away and then resets. Each time he does this he will look for his opportunity to burst forward with a string of punches, usually stepping across into range. And this set – burst, shuffle away, reset is a consistent strategy he employs.
In terms of his specific technique, Arlovski is very good at feinting low on the right side and then coming up high with the left hook. His inability to fluidly move his head does result in him getting tagged when he and his opponents clash, but he is very comfortable covering up when he is hurt and staying composed. When this happens you will usually see an Arlovski shell, and pick moments to throw one big counter shot at a time to try to regain some respect.
As mentioned before, Sambo is always a potential plan B for Arlovski, from the bottom he is good at tying up his opponents with his closed guard and underhooks and minimizing ground and pound. Offensively, from an over-under clinch position, he has a good left leg trip and sweep and likes to land and work in half guard. He will put himself in awkward positions in order to keep his opponents down and land, not always the most dominating kind of ground and pound but a style that keeps him safe while he does so.
Carlos Felipe will be giving up some height and reach in this match-up, so distance control will have to be a big part of Arlovski’s game in order to mitigate his lack of head movement. Felipe likes to trade in the pocket, as the shorter fighter, he also has very quick hands and is good at rolling and weaving under overhangs and hooks. Although he has in the past been susceptible to sharp jabs down the middle.
He has a ‘walk you down’ style of movement, that is efficient, it doesn’t require him to explode forward and carries his cardio into the later round where he is often most comfortable. Specifically, Felipe has a great slip body hook, and overhand right. Arlovski will do well to keep a high left guard, as the overhand is Felipe’s most dangerous weapon.
Felipe is difficult to takedown with lower body attacks. His stout body time means that the level change has to be particularly low, a difficult thing to do often by most heavyweights, and his base is strong enough to carry him to very good takedown defense in general. Where he struggles is when his opponents can clamp on a good body lock and kind of wear him down and drag him around, on the bottom Felipe has little to give other than good choke awareness. He is quick to turn into chokes to avoid them but he has shown an inability to mount any counter offense when he is put on the bottom.
Arlovski vs. Felipe Prediction
Arlovski’s experience is going to be a key factor in this match-up. Felipe probably has the ability to outwork Arlovski if they try to match pace over 15 minutes, and in the pocket he’s a bit more wild but also a bit faster and dynamic. Arlovski needs to work straight boxing from a step outside Felipe’s range. He also needs to utilize his tactic of engaging and resetting every time Felipe gains momentum walking him down. If he cannot do these two things, Felipe’s chances of catching him rise greatly.
However, what is most important I think is there is a large disparity in the grappling department, should Arlovski choose to use it. Not even just to dominate the whole fight with ground control, but by establishing grappling as a potential threat for Felipe to think about, Arlovski can take away some of the potential momentum Felipe likes to ride on. Felipe is a fighter who often shows how the fight is going on his face, he taunts when he is winning and shakes his head when he is hit. Therefore it is important for Arlovski to disrupt Felipe every time he starts to get comfortable in the fight.
Ultimately stylistically I think all the tools to win are in Arlovski’s corner
Prediction: Andrei Arlovski wins by decision.
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.