One of the biggest non-UFC fight weekends is upon us, as Strikeforce puts on a big event Saturday featuring a matchup pitting Jake Shields against Robbie Lawler, while Sunday brings us WEC action and the much-anticipated Featherweight title rematch between Mike Brown and Urijah Faber.
As part of the action, Bleacher Report is bringing you previews of some of the action you'll see. First up, let's look at a big fight on the undercard of Saturday's Strikeforce event featuring former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers.
For a look at Shields vs. Lawler, check out my Fight Magazine preview here and hear me on Fight Network Radio Wednesday at 4 p.m. EST.
About Brett Rogers (9-0)
The 28-year-old Minnesota native (seen above) has been knocking people out his entire three-year career, winning all but one of his fights via KO or TKO. That lone submission victory was, well, Ralph Kelly submitting to punches. Yeah, Rogers likes to hit people and hit them hard.
The 6'4" Rogers was picked up by EliteXC in late 2007 and debuted with the afore-mentioned win over Kelly, following that up with a KO of James Thompson in February 2008 and a TKO over Jon Murphy in May 2008.
Then after a near year-long layoff because of the EliteXC contract fiasco, Rogers returned with a TKO victory over Abongo Humphrey with his new company Strikeforce less than two months ago.
The Humphrey fight marked the first time Rogers has gone past the first round in his career.
About Andrei Arlovski (15-6)
Arlovski has done it all in his decade in MMA but finds himself in an interesting place this Saturday night. It took just four fights for the "Pitbull" to be inked to a UFC deal, and he soon became an octagon mainstay after debuting there in November 2000. Arlovski fought 14 times in the UFC and won the heavyweight crown with a first-round submission win over Tim Sylvia at UFC 51 in February 2005.
He would successfully defend the gold with convincing wins over Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello before dropping it back to Sylvia at UFC 59 in April 2006 and then losing a third battle with "The Maine-iac" at UFC 61 just a few months later.
Despite winning his next three in the UFC, the two parted ways, and Arlovski signed on to face Ben Rothwell at Affliction: Banned. After a third-round KO win, he moved on to convincingly knock out Roy Nelson at EliteXC's final event on CBS in October 2008—punctuating a five-fight win streak.
Then came his anticipated WAMMA title fight with world-renowned badass Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: Day of Reckoning this past January, a bout many thought he was in control of before he ran into Fedor's fist. The first-round knockout defeat killed the momentum Arlovski had been building—momentum he desperately wants to start again this Saturday against the younger Rogers.
More after the jump...
Arlovski is an injury sub for Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem who had to pull out of the fight a few weeks ago with a hand injury.
From a distance, this fight looks like a mismatch but is very, very intriguing. Rogers is inexperienced and doesn't have a lot of notable wins under his belt to be realistically challenging someone with the resume of Arlovski. However, Rogers fights pissed and has been essentially untouched in his nine fights. That he is able to fight just two months after having a year off speaks quite a bit to how badly he wants to get his name back in the top-level mix with Strikeforce.
Arlovski has a lot more to lose here, as his loss to Fedor was devastating but not career-ending. At 30 years old, he can easily fight for three to five more years if he wants to (the idea of boxing seems to be luring him away), but fights against hungry youngsters like Rogers are going to tell a lot of how this next stretch of his career is going to go. He needs a permanent home after being a fighter for hire the past year, and perhaps Strikeforce will be that place.
The heavyweight landscape is changing rapidly, and Rogers wants to be part of that conversation. On Saturday though, he'll have to wait for one more night as Arlovski's experience is going to be too much for his inexperienced opponent to combat. Rogers has two fists that could make this prediction look foolish, but we think Arlovski's hands are going to reach their target sooner.
Pick: Arlovski via second-round KO
Josh Nason—josh [at] ropesringandcage [dot com]—has published MMA, wrestling, and boxing blog Ropes, Ring, and Cage.com since 2007. He has been a contributor to Fight Magazine since January 2009 and Bleacher Report since 2008.