Andrei Arlovski entered the Octagon at UFC 174 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday night for the first time in more than six years, trying to recapture the past glory of being a UFC heavyweight champion. His opponent, Brendan Schaub, has been fighting in the Octagon since shortly after Arlovski made his exit. He’s still trying to reach the heights that Arlovski is trying to regain.
Surprisingly it was Schaub – a powerful striker but not typically considered at the level of Arlovski’s striking – that landed the more damaging blows in the opening round. Arlovski started fairly slowly, not showing much head movement or utilizing his usual footwork.
The second round didn’t see Arlovski gaining much confidence. He still wasn’t showing much movement, while Schaub kept working on setting up the overhand right, looking for the knockout blow. He didn’t land as cleanly in the second round as the first, but Schaub was still outgunning Arlovski.
Schaub remained the aggressor in the final round, still trying to find a home for his overhand right, but Arlovski clinched and pressed him to the fence. Schaub countered by bullying Arlovski to the mat spending a good portion of the round, grounding and pounding from inside the Belarusian’s full guard.
Arlovski managed to push Schaub off and return the fight to the feet for the final minute of the fight, but neither man did much damage before the final bell.
It wasn’t a performance that either man was likely content with, but first impressions were that Schaub would walk away with a decision victory.
It’s no longer become shocking, and this decision didn't compare to the recent Diego Sanchez debacle, but it was a bit surprising when the judges awarded Arlovski a split decision victory.
It surely wasn’t the homecoming that the former UFC heavyweight champion had hoped for, but it is another mark in the win column none the less.