Andrei Arlovski made a triumphant return to the UFC earlier this year, scoring a decision victory over Brendan Schaub.
Despite the result, most still wondered if “The Pit Bull” could compete with the top fighters in MMA’s biggest division.
This past Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 51, the former UFC heavyweight champion served notice, dominating No. 4 ranked Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in his native country of Brazil and scoring a first round finish.
So, what next for Arlovski? Here’s a look at where the UFC might go with him in the coming months:
Mark Hunt/Roy Nelson winner
These two square off this Saturday night from Japan, meaning the timing of pairing the winner with Arlovski would make sense – assuming the man who’s hand is raised comes out healthy.
Hunt is currently ranked seventh, one spot ahead of Nelson. Soon, the new rankings will be released and one would assume Arlovski will climb into the Top-10.
Arlovski and Hunt have yet to cross paths inside the cage, but a match up with Nelson would be a rematch of a 2008 win by Arlovski. That marked the first – and only time – “Big Country” has been stopped.
Much like the fact that Arlovski and Hunt have never crossed paths, the native of Belarus has never fought Barnett.
Barnett is coming off a loss to Travis Browne, and has made it known that he hasn’t set down a date for his return, but the timing could be right.
Both were once in Strikeforce together, and they have each had a run before in the UFC that included wearing the gold belt. It just feels like this could be a perfect pairing for one to make a push after.
If Arlovski wants to make an even bigger jump up the rankings, he’ll take on Miocic next.
The No. 5 ranked fighter is coming off a destruction of Fabio Maldonado and has yet to set a return date.
Miocic is on a three-fight win streak and has only fallen once in his MMA career. Two wins over Top-5 fighters would do wonders for Arlovski’s confidence and standing.