Arlovski was born in Babruisk, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (now Belarus). When he was younger, bullies often picked on him and beat him up. In 1994, when he was 14 years old, he finally had enough and started lifting weights to put on muscle and, he hoped, to help him deal with these bullies. Arlovski only took up martial arts at the age of 16 in Karate having previously been interested in soccer. It was an interest in personal fitness and conditioning that led Arlovski to take an interest in combat sports such as Sambo, Judo and Kickboxing.
Enrolling at the police academy in Minsk, Arlovski combined his interest in a career in law enforcement with his growing martial arts participation by taking up the required police defense course in Sambo and quickly showed himself to be a highly competent Sambo opponent. In 1999, Arlovski won the European Youth Sambo Championship and the World Youth Championship. Not long after, Arlovski became the first Master of Sports and then International Master of Sports. He took a silver medal at the Sambo World Cup and another silver medal at the World Sambo Championship.
Arlovski began taking a greater interest in other martial arts, studying kickboxing and developing his striking skills to complement his Sambo-based grappling abilities.
Arlovski has a pet pit bull by the name of Maximus Arlovski, accompanying him to workouts. Arlovski did a public service announcement against dog fighting featuring this pit bull and calling it inhumane and torture. Arlovski said he chose his nickname The Pitbull for the positive qualities these dogs have.
Arlovski is an Orthodox Christian.
At the age of 20, Arlovski began his professional MMA career at the Mix Fight M-1 in St Petersburg, Russia on April 9, 1999. It was a fairly inauspicious start, losing by knockout KO to Viacheslav Datsik. Not deterred, Arlovski returned in 2000 to M-1 Global at the European Championships, taking the heavyweight crown with a submission victory and a KO victory.
Arlovski made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut at UFC 28, defeating Aaron Brink by submission. He was then thrown in against top opposition, losing to future UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez and heavyweight contender Pedro Rizzo. Despite those early defeats, wins over future British Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion Ian Freeman and future IFL Light Heavyweight Champion Vladimir Matyushenko propelled Arlovski back into the UFC elite.
In 2004, a motorcycle accident injury suffered by then UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir led to the creation of an interim heavyweight title. It was decided that the two top heavyweight contenders would meet to declare the interim champion and on February 5, 2005, at UFC 51, Arlovski faced former heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia. In the fight, Arlovski eventually connected with an overhand right and dropped Sylvia. On the ground, Arlovski followed up with an Achilles lock that forced Sylvia to tap out at 47 seconds of the first round, making Arlovski the new UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion.
Arlovski went on to defend his interim title on June 4, 2005, at UFC 53, against Justin Eilers. Arlovski won the bout by TKO in the first round. After the fight, it was revealed that Eilers suffered extensive injuries in this match including a badly broken nose, two broken hands and a complete ACL tear.
In October 2005, Arlovski once again defended his title at UFC 55 against top contender Paul Buentello. Arlovski knocked out Buentello in 15 seconds of the opening round. On August 12, 2005, the UFC announced that it now recognized Arlovski as the undisputed heavyweight champion, as Frank Mir had not fully rehabilitated from his motorcycle accident.
In a rematch with Tim Sylvia at UFC 59 on April 15, 2006, Arlovski knocked Sylvia down with a right hand punch early in the first round. Sylvia was able to protect himself and recovered almost immediately. While Arlovski tried to finish Sylvia with a right lead, Sylvia countered with a short right uppercut to the chin, knocking Arlovski to the mat. Sylvia followed up with punches on the ground until referee Herb Dean stopped the match at 2:43 of the first round.
The rubber match between Tim Sylvia and Arlovski took place on July 8, 2006, at UFC 61. In what turned out to be a 5-round battle of attrition, neither fighter was able to KO the other, or even land any truly significant blows. In the end Sylvia won the fight by unanimous decision. It was later discovered that during the fight, Arlovski had been significantly injured by a checked leg kick sometime in the second round which left him unable to throw kicks of his own or make any takedown attempts. When confronted by a reporter about the injury, Arlovski avoided responding directly and would only say "I do not want to talk about my injuries or look for any other excuses." Not too long after it was revealed Sylvia had sustained an injury as he fainted at his hotel room and upon hospital examination, doctors discovered a concussion undetected after the match.
Arlovski made his next appearance on December 30, 2006, at UFC 66 against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Márcio Cruz. After being taken down, he kicked Cruz in the shoulder (which is legal) but it was mistaken for a head kick (which is illegal) by referee Herb Dean. When the referee intervened, he decided, because of Cruz's insistence, to allow both fighters to stay on the ground as opposed to standing them up, as is the general practice. Thereafter, Arlovski struck Cruz with a strong blow to the chin, then continued beating Cruz with hammerfists until the fight was stopped.
Arlovski fought PRIDE veteran and two-time world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Fabrício Werdum at UFC 70 and won by unanimous decision. Both fighters kept their distance for the majority of the fight, causing the referee to inform them at the beginning of the third round that he would remove a point from the first fighter to retreat in that round. Although Arlovski won the fight by unanimous decision, many boos could be heard from the crowd. After the fight Arlovski apologized to the fans for not fighting for the full fifteen minutes.
After 11 months of inactivity, Arlovski made his return to the octagon for the final time at UFC 82 and defeated Jake O'Brien by TKO in round two. With this win, Arlovski gave O'Brien his first ever MMA loss. This was Arlovski's final fight on his UFC contract.
Arlovski left the UFC with a record of 10–4, including going 3–2 in title fights.
After leaving the UFC, Arlovski signed with the newly created MMA-promotion Affliction and participated in their inaugural event Affliction: Banned on July 19, 2008. He fought and defeated top ranked heavyweight fighter and former IFL heavyweight stand-out Ben Rothwell by KO in the final round of the fight, ending Rothwell's 13 fight win streak and giving him his first defeat in over 3 years.
Originally scheduled to face former UFC Heavyweight Champion and top-ranked heavyweight Josh Barnett in the main event at Affliction's second pay-per-view, Affliction: Day of Reckoning, on October 11, 2008, the event was rescheduled and Arlovski would instead be matched up against the last reigning IFL Heavyweight Champion Roy Nelson at EliteXC: Heat on October 4, 2008, in Sunrise, Florida in a co-promotion with EliteXC. Arlovski won the fight via KO in the second round and in the process became the only man to ever finish Nelson in his MMA career at that point.
In January 2009, Arlovski faced the last reigning PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: Day of Reckoning. Arlovski looked exceptionally well prepared and focused but despite his encouraging early efforts, Arlovski lost the fight via KO in the opening round after jumping in with a very long range knee and being caught with an over-hand right punch.
On June 6, 2009, Arlovski fought up and coming heavyweight Brett Rogers at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields. Arlovski lost the fight via TKO in the opening round. As a result, Arlovski has begun training with acclaimed MMA coach Greg Jackson in October 2009. Arlovski was a featured attendee at Strikeforce: Emelianenko vs. Rogers where he was mobbed with a crowd of local Chicago fans. Arlovski was signed to Strikeforce and fought former EliteXC heavyweight champion Antônio Silva on May 15, 2010, at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery. after 3 rounds of hard hitting punches from both and no one giving in to each, Arlovski lost by unanimous decision.
Arlovski was defeated by Sergei Kharitonov via KO on February 12, 2011, as part of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament. It was his fourth straight loss, three of which were by way of KO. On February 17, 2011, Arlovski posted a video on his website which he spoke for over an hour, repeatedly saying that he would absolutely not retire and end his career this way. Arlovski indicated there was a situation with his trainers recommended that he retire; however, Greg Jackson was against his retirement. Arlovski dedicated himself to training exclusively with Greg Jackson in New Mexico to refocus on his MMA career and make the necessary changes to get back on track.
After several months of grueling training schedule in New Mexico with Greg Jackson and the likes of Jon Jones, Shane Carwin and Travis Browne, Arlovski headlined ProElite 1 on August 27 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii against heavyweight Ray Lopez. Arlovski won by TKO in the third round after dominating Lopez throughout the fight.
Arlovski faced off against veteran of over 300 fights Travis Fulton at ProElite 2 in November, serving as the co-main event. Arlovski won the fight via a head kick KO in the final second of the third round. It was a knockout which caused Fulton, who had never been knocked out, to regain consciousness about 5 minutes after the fight was stopped. Fulton later admitted to Arlovski in the locker room that he has never been hit that hard in all of his 300 bouts.
In mid-July 2012, it was announced that Arlovski had signed with the Asia-based promotion ONE Fighting Championship. Originally Arlvoski was scheduled to fight Soa Palelei but Soa Palelei was later replaced with Tim Sylvia. The promotion quickly announced that Arlovski would face Tim Sylvia in his debut, marking the fourth time the two fighters had faced each other.
Arlovski and Sylvia faced off at ONE Fighting Championship: Pride of a Nation on August 31, 2012, in Manila. The fight between Arlovski and Tim Sylvia ended in a no-contest due to an illegal soccer kick by Arlovski. According to ONE FC rules, soccer kicks are legal only if the referee clears the fighter to do so after determining the grounded fighter can still intelligently defend himself. Arlovski received no such clearance, the kick was deemed illegal. Four days later One FC eliminated this restriction. This rule change, if made earlier, would have resulted in Arlovki the winner by TKO. Arlovski had knocked Tim Sylvia down with punches before he landed the illegal kicks that caused the referee to stop the fight.
Arlovski headlined the debut event from the World Series of Fighting against fellow Strikeforce veteran Devin Cole on November 3, 2012, at World Series of Fighting 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This event aired live on NBC Sports. He won the fight via TKO in the first round.
Arlovski fought Anthony Johnson in the main event at World Series of Fighting 2 on March 23, 2013. He lost the fight via unanimous decision. Controversy arose after the fight when it was revealed that multiple rounds exceeded the five-minute time limit. The punch believed to have broken Arlovski's jaw was landed after when time should have expired.
Arlovski next replaced an injured Anthony Johnson against Mike Kyle at WSOF 5 on September 14, 2013. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
Arlovski faced Bellator veteran Mike Hayes at Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow 9 on December 16, 2012, in Moscow, Russia. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
Arlovski was also scheduled to fight 2 time ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion and veteran of over 60 fights Jeff Monson in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 2, 2013, but the event was postponed.
Arlovski fought Andreas Kraniotakes at Fight Nights - Battle in Minsk on November 29, 2013, and Arlovski won the fight via TKO in the second round.
On April 24, 2014, it was confirmed by multiple MMA media websites that Arlovski had been granted his release from WSOF to return to UFC. The former heavyweight champion fought Brendan Schaub at UFC 174 on June 14, 2014. Arlovski was victorious in his return to the UFC, defeating Schaub via split decision.
It was announced that Arlovski would be facing Antônio Silva in a rematch on September 13, 2014, at UFC Fight Night 51. Despite being a heavy betting underdog, Arlovski won the fight via knockout in the first round, after landing two consecutive right hands that dropped Silva and subsequent hammerfists on the ground with Silva unable to defend himself. This win also won Arlovski his first Performance of the Night bonus award.
Arlovski faced Travis Browne on May 23, 2015, at UFC 187. Despite being a heavy underdog and being knocked down in the first round, Arlovski stunned Browne multiple times throughout the opening minutes, and eventually won the fight via TKO in the first round. Post-fight, Joe Rogan revealed on commentary that Arlovski came close to withdrawing from the fight due to a calf injury in training. The win also earned Arlovski his first Fight of the Night bonus award.
Arlovski faced Frank Mir on September 5, 2015, at UFC 191, winning by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, and 30–27) in a fight which many, including UFC president Dana White, thought Mir won.
Arlovski returned to face Stipe Miocic on January 2, 2016, at UFC 195. He was defeated via TKO in the first round.
Arlovski faced Alistair Overeem on May 8, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 87. After a back and forth first round, Arlovski lost the fight via TKO in the second round.
Arlovski next faced Josh Barnett on September 3, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 93. He lost the fight via submission in the third round, resulting in his first submission loss in his professional MMA Career. Both participants were awarded Fight of the Night for their performance.
Arlovski faced Francis Ngannou on January 28, 2017 at UFC on Fox 23. He lost the fight via TKO in the first round.
Arlovski faced Marcin Tybura on June 17, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 111. He lost the fight by unanimous decision.
Arlovski is scheduled to face Junior Albini at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis on November 11, 2017 in Norfolk, Virginia.Ultimate Fighting Championship
UFC Heavyweight Championship (One time)
One successful title defense
Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship (two time)
One successful title defense
Fight of the Night (Two times)
Performance of the Night (One time)
Tied most for knockout wins in UFC heavyweight history (9)
Second most wins in UFC heavyweight history (13)
Highest takedown defense success in UFC heavyweight history (88.4%)
2015 Comeback Fighter of the Year
2015 May Fight of the Month vs. Travis Browne
2015 Round of the Year vs. Travis Browne, round 1
(One time) heavyweight tournament winner
(Two time) heavyweight champion
European Youth Sambo
European Youth Sambo Champion
2nd place in the World Cup in Sambo
World Sambo Championship
2nd place at the World Sambo Championship
Arlovski's movie debut was in 8 of Diamonds in 2006. He starred in Universal Soldier: Regeneration in 2009, along with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. In the movie, he plays an "NGU", a new generation UniSol in the main "bad guy" role. The movie was released directly to video on February 2, 2010, in the United States. Arlovski also played a part in the next Universal Soldier movie — Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, released in theaters on November 30, 2012, and on demand on October 25, 2012.
Arlovski appeared on the TV show Limitless episode 7 "Brian Finch's Black Op". Arlovski plays the role of a suspected terrorist hunted by the CIA. The show originally aired Nov. 3, 2015.
Arlovski appeared on Mayhem Miller's MTV show Bully Beatdown in which he beat up a bully, earning the bully's victims $10,000.