Elated Andrei Arlovski credits good team around him, being stubborn with UFC return

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When news broke last Friday (via UFC President Dana White's announcement on Twitter) that former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski would return to the UFC, it came as a surprise to most.

After all, Arlovski hasn't looked necessarily bad outside the UFC of late, but his post-UFC record is filled with a number of high-profile losses. Since leaving the promotion after UFC 82 in March of 2008, Arlovski's record has been mixed. He went on a four-fight losing streak, dropping bouts to Brett Rogers, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva and Sergei Kharitonov, all under the Strikeforce banner.

More recently, however, Arlovski has gone 6-1-1, with the lone loss coming against new UFC light heavyweight Anthony Johnson, a bout which take place under the World Series of Fighting banner in March of 2013. Arlovski lost the contest via unanimous decision.

White would eventually say at the post-fight scrum for UFC 172 it all happened because Arlovski's management team approached the UFC, pitched the idea of a UFC return and that was all she wrote.

"I'm very happy to be back in the UFC. It's a great job, my management team," Arlovski told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "Thank you, Dana White. I'm already very excited and looking forward to having another debut in the UFC on June 14th."

For his UFC return, Arlovski's scheduled to face season 10 veteran of 'The Ultimate Fighter' Brendan Schaub at UFC 174 on June 14th.

"I always knew I was going to come back," Arlovski said. "It was sooner or later. I knew I was going to come back to the UFC soon.

"I had some problems a couple of years ago. It wasn't really a good time for me. I had a few losses. It wasn't really smart for me to fight back like a couple of years ago, but I also want to say thank you to all promotions, companies that gave me an opportunity in my career. Right now, I'm just very happy and ready to go. I'm ready to reach all of my goals."

Arlovski isn't big on the nitty gritty details of how he managed to return to the place where he built his name, but suffice it to say there were few who would've anticipated a return to the world's elite fighting organization as likely or even possible for the former champion. That, however, isn't how he necessarily sees it. Despite what he acknowledges as legitimately hard times since leaving the UFC, he says he was going to continue to push himself back to the top no matter what it took.

"I'm very stubborn," Arlovski explained. "It doesn't matter how much it's going to cost me, what I have to do, sooner or later, anyway, I'm going to have what I want. Especially if I want something really bad. I put 100 percent of myself into the deal and I'm just very happy."

The Belorussian fighter says he's been overwhelmed by the response to his return. After White tweeted the news, Arlovski says he received over 700 responses on Twitter just 30 minutes after the announcement.

And while that's been nice for the UFC veteran to see, what matters most, he says, is how the people behind him - his management team and coaches at Jackson-Winkeljohn's - have made this all possible. He credits this return almost entirely to them.

"Just for this I need to train even harder, fight harder, for those people that support me with all my weaknesses, my losses, and all the time were behind me. That means a lot to me. I would say I'm a happy fighter because I have such a nice people behind me.

"After I lost to Kharitonov, some of my trainers said, 'You should retire. Arlovski's done,'" the heavyweight explained. "The most embarrassing thing for me was that people that I trusted, they didn't tell me right to my face. They made some gossip behind my back. And I called Greg Jackson, I said, 'Listen, coach, some people said I should retire, that I'm done. What do you think? You think I should retire?'"

According to Arlovski, Jackson would hear none of it. Instead, he counseled the fighter to start from scratch with him and to rebuild his skill set. For 'the Pitbull', this was a turning point that for forged the kind of bond Arlovski needed to continue his mixed martial arts career.

"I'm just really happy at that time Greg Jackson gave me his hand and just support me at that time," he said.

As for what's possible, it's difficult to say. It certainly would be unlikely for Arlovski to contend for any sort of title going forward, but as the fighter himself notes, all the negativity of the past is behind him. With the right career opportunity, the strong resume and good people around him, Arlovski feels he doesn't need to prove anything, but can't wait to try.

"I don't need to prove anybody," he said. "I don't need to show anything. Just all I want to do is really good. Of course, I want to be the champion again. Just I'm going to perform for myself, for my family, for my fans."

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