Through the Fire and Back: Andrei Arlovski Coming of Age


Through the Fire and Back: Andrei Arlovski Coming of Age
By Juan C. Ayllon
Original Article:

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Almost two weeks ago at the United Center, 6’-1” and 224 lb. WBO Heavyweight Champion Lamon Brewster shocked odds makers and 21,000 screaming fans alike as he tore into and dispatched the hulking, 6’-4” and 248 lb. favorite Andrew Golota in 53 seconds flat. Looking on, Ultimate Fighting Heavyweight Interim Champion Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski said, “You know I don’t speak English, but I like this fight. I like Brewster.”

It figures. On February 5, 2005 in UFC 51, Andrei Arlovski faced a similar challenge: at 6’-4” and 237 lbs., he took on betting favorite Tim Sylvia who, at 6’-8” and 265 lbs., sported a four

Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovksi, UFC Fighter

to five inch reach advantage and was said to pack the deadlier punch.

No matter.

To everyone’s surprise, Arlovski submitted the towering favorite, Tim Sylvia, just 47 seconds into the bout, knocking him down hard with a vicious overhand right and forcing Sylvia to tap out with a heel hook. With that, he became the Ultimate Fighting Championships Interim Heavyweight Champion; the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champ, Frank Mir was sidelined in a car accident in 2004.

On Saturday, June 4, Arlovski (8-3-0) will defend his Interim title against gutsy and dangerous MMA fighter, Justin Eilers (9-3-1). Assuming all goes well, Arlovski will look to solidify his claim to the title against Mir and whomever the UFC sets up for him to fight.

Is he overly concerned about the competition? Nope. Leo Khorolinsky, one of Arlovski’s managers, said, “He would fight Klitschko, Tyson, anyone if the money’s right. After all, he’s a professional fighter. That’s what he does.”

That, and the fact that, like WBO Champ Brewster, Arlovski has a solid team behind him, suggests that even greater accomplishments may lie ahead. While “Team Brewster” includes Hall of Fame Trainer Jesse Reid, a trainer of numerous world champion boxers, Arlovski has several champions in their own right preparing him, as well as Dr. James Stoxen DC and his practice, Team Doctors Chiropractic Treatment and Training Centers, working to rehabilitate and strengthen any weaknesses along the way.

In tracing Arlovski’s rise to prominence, Dr. Stoxen provided this writer with key insights on what helped make Andrei the fighter that he is today.

From the beginning, Andrei Arlovski’s potential was readily apparent. A former soccer player in his youth, Arlovski began training at age 18 in Sambo, while preparing for a career with the Minsk, Belarus police force. Developed by the Russian military, Sambo is a grappling art, a hybrid of sorts between Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. At age 19, Arlovski was runner up in the Sambo World Championships; at age 20, he won the Sambo Championships, and repeated this feat at age 21, where he was also awarded the title, “Sambo Master.”

Not content in merely mastering a grappling art, Arlovski turned to Mixed Martial Arts and began training for kickboxing with former world champion kick boxer Dimitri Stepanov and K-1 Champion Andrei Dudko.

Although a quick study, Arlovski also took some lumps along the way. On April 9, 1999, Arlovski lost in the M-1 MFC World Championship 1999 to Viacheslay Datsik by knockout. This was followed by two wins at the M-1 MFC European Championships 2000 against Michael Tielrooy (Guillotine Choke) and Roman Zentsov (TKO Strikes). Then, following a superb armbar win vs. Aaron Brink in his Ultimate Fighting Championships debut (UFC 28), he lost back to back: in 2001 to Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 32 via TKO; and in 2002 at UFC 36 to Pedro Rizzo by KO*.

However, at this point, Arlovski was admittedly a relative newcomer to the sport with a huge amount of potential upside.

Dr. Stoxen said that Arlovski came to the U.S. when he was 22 years old. Stoxen’s first affiliation with Arlovski was through Andrei’s kickboxing training partner, Dimitri Stepanov, who was scheduled to fight in a tournament, and who came to him with a broken hand.

Stoxen said, “Trainer Alex Andriovski brought Dudko and Stepanov. Andrievski wanted to know if Stepanov’s hand was still broken and it was. When I talked with ESPN, they asked what was the scoop. I told them it was broken, so they said Dudko would fight instead. Andre Dudko was a K-1 Champ in 2002 or 3; these two trained him , mainly Demitri and Alex Andrievski, the trainer in Belarus, who was a very formidable fighter in his time.”

They sent Dudko to the competition as a fill-in for Stepanov, where he almost won but ultimately lost via kick to thigh. However, he later went on to win the K-1 title.

Dr James Stoxen DC (left) with Andrei Arlovski (right)

Stoxen continued: “Stepanov, instead of going to San Jose, went to New York with a broken hand and won a competition. He fought for a world title and won anyway. So that shows you the toughness of this group of Russians. They’ll fight with broken bones and win. He ended up winning with a fractured hand!”

Elaborating further, Dr. Stoxen said, “Andrei Arlovski was the third fighter from that group, taking lessons from Stepanov and Dudko in Belarus (mainly Stepanov and Andrievski). His sparring partner was Dudko for kickboxing. Alex Andrievski is the head of the gym, a well-known training center at Belarus that produces good fighters. They sent him here with one of their reps, Leo Khorolinsky, who manages him.”

They initially brought Andrei Arlovski to Dr. Stoxen with a sore shoulder. Stoxen treated him three times a week.

Stoxen said, “I was treating shoulder, feet, and everything. Andrei won one fight. He fought a fight and lost. He lost to Rizzo. His back was against the wall, as he had only one more fight on his contract.”

Coming through in a clutch, Arlovski knocked out tough Englishman Ian “The Machine” Freeman in devastating fashion at UFC 40 in 2002.

However, his victory did not come without a price.

“Arlovski knocked out the guy really bad,” said Stoxen. This was the same guy that pummeled current Champion Frank Mir in UFC 38. Continuing, Dr. Stoxen said, “Arlovski beat him very badly, hitting him hard to the face, leaving him sitting on stool for a long time.”

Dr. Stoxen said, “He had hand pain and I took X-rays. It was fractured. This is common in the UFC because while everyone is concerned about the lightweight gloves and the potential injuries to the fighters who get hit, it’s the fighters who hit whom are actually more concerned about the potential for fracture of the bones of the hand. Theoretically you can’t hit as hard with the smaller gloves without concern for the breaks. Guys still hit as hard as they can don’t they?”

“I gave the team the results of my evaluation and we decided to have Andre continue to train but no heavy bag or sparring for a specified amount of weeks. I told them the exact time, which they shouldn’t spar and a few weeks prior to that date, he sparred with a big, black guy with a hard head. This time Leo and I decided on a bone scan and we found some hot spots; yes, he broke his hand again.”

Stoxen told Arlovski to avoid surgery. He said, “Every time he fought he had hand pain. Each fight he had it hurt. It takes time for the bone to heal after surgery and Andre was on a great winning streak so I advised the team it was not a good career move at this time to get the surgery. Wait and keep winning till we get the break we are looking for.” Following his advice, Arlovski rested his hand and kept winning.

Stoxen said, “The next fight he had with ‘The Janitor’, he hit him on the chin and broke his hand again!”

At UFC 47 in 2004, Andrei dramatically stopped Wesley “Cabbage” Correira by TKO. However, in the process, he fractured his hand yet again.

Dr. Stoxen said, “He fights Cabbage and breaks it again. The first fight, he breaks it cleanly, the other two were like stress fractures.”

Following the bout, there was sufficient time between bouts as Mir was to fight Silvio and Silvio had his challenges with the drug testing. Now was the right time to send Andrei back to

Andrei Arlovski at Team Doctors Training Center

Russia where he had a donor bone grafted into his hand.

Commenting on this procedure, Dr. Stoxen said, “Because of the donor bone, his hand is stronger than it ever was without any loss of function. His actual hand is actually able to withstand more force than the original hand was due to the callous and calcium formation around the original break. That’s common with any break unless it doesn’t have good union. The reason why it kept breaking was because it was a bit crooked; it was bent a little. That area is easier to fracture. That is not so with the donor bone. If you look at it or shake Andrei’s hand, you can’t feel anything different.”

Arlovski’s hand troubles alleviated, trouble with his right shoulder flared up.

Five weeks before his fight versus Tim Sylvia, on December 23rd, he came in to see Dr. Stoxen because he felt soreness in his shoulder. Stoxen said, “It wasn’t a rotator cuff injury but it was tricky because it was way up under the AC joint, an area which was hard for me to get at with my fingertips to fix it.”

Commenting further, Stoxen said, “Remember, it was on his right side, his money arm. He wanted to keep training. 25 rounds boxing a day (sparring, shadow boxing, hitting the pads) and who knows how many rounds wrestling, he put lots of stress on shoulder joint. Treating shoulder problems is no big deal after you have worked on so many, but treating a fighter with an active inflammatory process in his power side less than 30 days prior to the UFC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD is!”

Nonplussed, Dr. Stoxen said, “I’ve been in this situation before with boxers, they come a week before the fight all the time with shoulders they can’t even move it, crazy stuff, all the time.”

“I think we worked on that shoulder for two hours straight and the next day he went back to his routine. He came in at least three, four days a week and the funny thing I remember now is, patients, you always have to tell them when to come in and remind them, but Andrei made a point to make every appointment and listened to everything I said. He does everything I ask him.”

They also worked on his left shoulder. According to Stoxen, Andrei had some shoulder soreness issues from training. They worked on his bicep and elbow. He would literally scream when they worked on the tissue. While resting his right shoulder, they focused on–and improved–his left hook. Said Stoxen, “I told Andrei that the plan for this next fight was to free up his left shoulder and left side and he would work on his left hook as a focus.”

“When I’d hit his right and left shoulder, arms and forearms, he would scream, saying, ‘Shit, I’ll hit you.’ I would just laugh at him and hit another point, all kinds of techniques. He’d say, ‘James, I’ll kill you later!’ I use specific techniques to release the spasms and reset all his bones; I would tell him, ‘This is good; if Sylvia ever hits you, it is nothing compared to the pain I am going to put you through.’ I would say, ‘Be quiet, take it like a man.’ He would laugh. Andrei’s a tough man; I would never mess with him.”

Dr James Stoxen DC (right), Andrei Arlovski (center) and his manager Leo Khorlinsky(left)

“He never missed a treatment and he would stay until I fixed it; and he would do everything I told him. Everything I told him, he implemented it immediately. He did exactly as I told him. And that’s why Andrei’s a world champion because he listens to his coaches, Dino and Dino, myself and his managers. He listens to advise to those who are surrounding him. He takes the advice. He doesn’t question it. He’s a fun guy but when it comes to become a world champion, it’s not fun and games; he’s very serious about it.”

Speaking on Andrei’s preparations for his bout against Tim Sylvia, Dr. Stoxen had the following to say:

“With four weeks to go until his bout , we allowed no more flour products or simple carbs when we found out he was at 15 % body fat. That meant: no bread, no dairy, no sugar. He was 246 with 15% body fat.”

“With five days to go, we brought in rice, potatoes, vegetables (low sugar) and meat.”

“We had him do tons of stretching.”

“You’ve got a guy who does everything you say. When you have a fighter like that It always comes out good, never negative. They always win.”

“We used to trick him: we would order a full chicken, told him must come during lunch hour or he couldn?t come in. When he came in, we would ask him if he was hungry. We’d say, ‘Well, there’s a full chicken in the consultation room.’ Everyday he would eat. He would come in, I would order a full roast of chicken and a big thing of water, and we would take a whole meal out of his plan because we wanted to make sure he stayed on plan. He got used to it. When he came into the office, he’d say, ‘Diana, give me a chicken.’ His bodyweight went down from 246 to 236 or 37.”

“And then a week before the fight, I contacted John Abdo, inventor of the ‘Ab-Doer System’ and the fitness guru; and also Dr. Bob Goldman, who is president of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine and Dr. Bob and I were in one room and we conferenced in all three of us in and decided we were going to add complex carbs three days before the competition, which was mainly rice. One hour after training, he would do the complex carbs–the rice and vegetables–to load up his muscle glycogen back up; two hours after this  he would add the meat and vegetables and an hour before bed, he would eat some protein because his natural growth hormone released form his pituitary gland the moment his eyes closed.”

“And what growth hormone does when it’s released, it is releases for one hour, it takes available sources of protein and it uses that protein and other vitamins and minerals to rebuild damaged tissues from training such as when he takes body shots or his muscles were damaged form holds in wrestling or sparring or the muscles tear down from excessive training.”

“He took some protein, the protein is released into his blood right when he’s sleeping through the gut and the combination of the hormone and the ample circulating levels of protein sufficient to rebuild muscle tissue from the day’s tearing. If the protein is not available, the body will find it somewhere, which means that it tears down healthy muscle tissue and make the body weaker. That’s one of the secrets for training for boxers and because the carbohydrate levels, the sugar levels are kept lower prior to bed time, (in the meal before bed, no carbohydrates) the body is looking for some fuel for the rebuilding process to rebuild the muscles (it takes a lot of energy), it goes to fat for a source of fuel. And so he actually got leaner during that time. He kept getting leaner and stronger and stronger.”

“That’s how you break people into the lower weight classes without having them starve by burning fat mainly during at night during the muscle recuperation process. And when muscle mass gets bigger, fat burns faster. The key is to build Andrei’s engine bigger so it burns fat faster. The metabolism is higher, his energy is incredible after that. You can see in the fight how his energy was explosive, like a psychotic energy, bursting, ready to explode; explosive quickness, like very anxious and very fast.”

“That’s the nuts and bolts of it.”

Andrei Arlovski and Dr James Stoxen DC (Andrei’s Pit Bull) Celebrating The Win Against Cabbage At Team Doctors

“Of course, after the fight, he ate like a pig. The Team was invited by Alexi Dubovik, the manager/sponsor to ‘Fogo de Chao,’ where they have unlimited portions of meat, where people come around with skewers of meat. They have these green coasters; one side it’s green and the other side is red. The two Dino’s, the trainer Dino from POW Gym, myself and Alexi and one other guy, we just ate like a huge meal and celebrated.”

Speaking candidly about mistakes he sees fighters make, as well as his role in helping athletes like Andrei Arlovski maximize their potential, Dr. Stoxen said:

“I have seen fighters with seven or eight knockouts in a row and they decide they’re going to change everything. I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; don’t change it drastically. That’s where guys make their mistake because one change over a cycle of training can have you lose. Tweak it, but don’t leave town, change your trainer, and change your coach. Tweak it, but don’t change it that much if you’re winning. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, leave it alone.”

“I got a text message from Andre from Russia and I thought he was playing around. He asked, ‘Why should I come back to Chicago?’ I text him back, ‘You have found a team which gives you success. Everyone who doesn’t win wants to copy you as you are the champion. Why would you want to copy them? Keep doing what you are doing!’

“For example, you go to a world powerlifting championship. When you go to world championships, if you treat 50 athletes, all of them must be national champions of their country, because only national champions are invited to world championships. And you can ask them any question you want. Anything from steroids, to nutrition, form and technique, repetitions and sets, rest periods.”

“As a sports doctor, those questions are imperative because the injury could be something from the training that could be off. Their form could be bad from the bench or their track shoes could be worn or their feet could be pronated, or they’re taking too little or too much of something or they’re not taking the proper vitamins.”

“As a result, you get a lot of good secrets: their dieticians, their doctors, their trainers, and every trick they’ve used themselves. You not only ask questions to see if they’re on the right track, but you also want to see what track they’re just in case the track they’re on is different than what you’ve heard before; maybe it’s a trick that you can add to your knowledge base to help others like Andrei; basically it’s called experience.”

“You want to be a champion, then be around champions, think like they think, do like they do and be around those they are around.”

In closing, Dr. Stoxen said about Arlovski, “I’m really happy for Andrei, we’re all excited for the victory. Decisions because of injuries, the fight with Sylvia being called off a year ago, Frank Mir’s motorcycle accident. Like a lot of decision-making went into getting him to this point; if we made the wrong decision, not he could have been gone, we as a team could have been gone!”

Thankfully, Arlovski’s not gone and the team will be there in Atlantic City to defend this title. He’s had an illustrious career thus far, he prevailed over Sylvia in dramatic fashion and, chances are, on Saturday, he will do likewise versus opponent Justin Eilers.

For more information on Dr. Stoxen and Team Doctors, visit

For more information, see:

*source of Arlovski’s record results:

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