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Andrei Arlovski; and, a hero's tragedy

"Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

The night was Saturday, March 23. The place: Revel Resort & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The event: World Series of Fighting 2.

It was there, a man named Andrei Arlovski stood. At least that's the name commentators Todd Harris and Bas Rutten had called him. Frankly, I know I had heard the name before, but I couldn't recognize the man.

The man I knew was nicknamed "Pitbull," and he had fangs. The Arlovski I saw on TV had chipped teeth and a swollen jaw. In my memory, he always ended fights with a menacing growl, arms spread; reveling in his victory; intimidating future opponents. Not exasperated or sullen. And, instead of the burgeoning shoulder hair I remember, this Arlovski stood hunched under the weight of a gray t-shirt and someone else's spotlight.

However, no one seemed to care. Anthony "Rumble Johnson had won. He moved up to heavyweight and defeated a former UFC champion.

Isn't that the way it always is, though? No one sees the fire. Then before we know it, the slow burn has ended. And there, under the venue lights and camera flashes, we see a pile of ashes.

We watch, as fight card after fight card, our former heroes of yesteryear valiantly, sometimes pathetically, limp into the sunset.

In those moments, we no longer chant their names, but shout for their heads. We beg for them to quit, when we use to plead them to fight another day.

We forget where we came from. We always do.

Arlovski will soon go the way of names such as Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture to MMA's version of Charon, where he will pay his due, before riding the ferryboat into retirement. And when the day comes, I hope we will give him the exit he deserves.

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