Someone needs to find the necromancer controlling Andre "The Pitbull" Arlovski (25-15 with 1 NC) and tell them to knock it off. It's not just that Arlovski has lost five straight times. It's not just that he's been finished in four of those fights in a division where punishment piles on rapidly. It's that all of it happened in less than two years.
Arlovski's "prime" is so far behind him that "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" no longer applies. A literal decade ago, Arlovski was a ferocious heavyweight with ungodly power and hand speed. In Elite XC he'd become the first guy to finish Roy Nelson. And not with a single, knockout punch; he beat on Nelson with head shots and leg kicks until the indomitable Nelson literally collapsed. Then he was knocked out three times in four fights and it seemed Arlovski was done; his four-fight winning streak in the UFC is now officially a result of good matchmaking and timing rather than skill.
This is the heavyweight division; even the chin of Mark Hunt is starting to crack. But Arlovski has nothing left. It's upsetting to watch the legend eat a glancing shot and suddenly move like he's in quicksand. I mean, this is unsafe.
I can't tell if Junior "Baby" Albini has a hilarious or terrifying nickname. I mean, he is chunky and adorable but he's also finished 12 out of 14 opponents. There's a dearth of fight footage outside of his UFC debut, but what we could find is quite promising.
The way he throws combinations reminds me of Junior Dos Santos. No, not as good as JDS who is probably the best offensive heavyweight in MMA history. But the way he generates angles, the way he "staggers" the speed on his punches and the compactness of his strikes all show shades of "Cigano". But while Junior is compact in combinations and long in the open floor, Albini stays compact everywhere. This makes his strikes very difficult to dodge because there's almost no telegraph, and it lets him use some neat tricks.
For example, when exiting a clinch he'll throw a quick left hook. Sometimes, he'll push people away and then throw a left hook. Heck, he'll throw a knee to the body and close the combination with a left hook. The lead hook is a difficult skill to develop, but arguably the best power punch in terms of risk vs. reward and Albini has found a way to land it consistently. His finishing combination on Timothy Johnson was deceptively brutal; a knee to the gut, quick left hook finished by an angled right hand that slipped behind the guard.
If there's one weakness Albini has shown, it's that he's not great clinching with his back against the fence. He wasn't in trouble, but he looked a bit lost.
UFC 217 proved that crazy things happen, but c'mon. Arlovski has a puncher's chance, and that's it. More likely he'll get caught by a counter left.
Albini via Knockout
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