Back in 1991’s Unforgiven, Little Bill (Gene Hackman) approaches the violent end of his life by telling Clint Eastwood’s Will Munny that he “doesn’t deserve this” — to which Eastwood replies “deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” And so UFC title shots have been handed out over the past few years: not to who deserves it, based off a winning record over tough competition, but to who the organization is better able to promote.

P.T. Barnum would be proud. The Fiji Mermaid has nothing on some title fights of recent memory. Jones vs. Sonnen, we’re looking at you. Of course, it’s not an ailment unique to the world of the UFC: Bellator’s “better late than never” main event of Slice vs. Shamrock was all about getting fans in the door with a couple of notable names, and serving them up a much more solid undercard. And there’s really nothing wrong with it, so long as it is the exception not the rule — and not for title gold. However, when you’ve got gold on the line, deserve should, scratch that, must, have something to do with it.

Which brings us to the late career resurgence of Andrei Arlovski.

Arlovski is on the sort of tear many old warriors hope for in the twilight of their careers. Outside of the UFC, he began his comeback in 2011 in ProElite with a pair of wins, followed by a No Contest due to soccer kicks in a ONE FC bout he was winning against Tim Sylvia. That led to his signing with the WSOF, where he would perform admirably (losing only to Anthony Johnson, and picking up a couple of wins outside the promotion), which in turn earned him another run in the UFC.

Yet coming in against Brendan Schaub, few expected much, and in a relatively close split decision win, it seemed that expectations, low though they were, had been met. Not many expected what came next: a stunning knockout of Bigfoot Silva in Brazil. Suddenly, Arlovski was 2-0 in the UFC. Yet when he was paired up against Travis Browne at UFC 187, again, the majority underestimated him — only to get a classic heavyweight bout that ended with Arlovski finishing his opponent in the first.

And that’s where we stand: Andrei Arlovski is suddenly on a 3-0 run in the UFC, ranked fourth in the heavyweight division, and possibly in line for a title shot. Which, when you really look at it, he does deserve. Consider this: the other possibilities are Junior Dos Santos, who is injured, has just one win (a close decision against Stipe Miocic) following his most recent loss to now-former champion Cain Velasquez, and Miocic, who has just one win, against Mark Hunt, following his loss to Dos Santos. And while Miocic had run up a considerable record prior to the Dos Santos fight, it’s rather questionable to give him a title shot coming off a single win — even if stranger things have happened.

With Valasquez not getting an immediate rematch, Dana White has said that either Miocic or Arlovksi will get the next title shot. In that case, the UFC needs to do the right thing, and give it to the legend who really does deserve it.

Then they need to continue that trend, and make sure that “deserve” has everything to do with title shots moving forward. That, the fans deserve.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.