Ex-UFC champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is the latest MMA fighter to walk into Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym to learn the sweet science.
According to Roach, the work already is paying dividends: Rua now hits with the power expected of a 205-pound fighter, he told Gracie Mag.
Current welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre and Tito Ortiz are but a few who’ve sung the famed boxing trainer’s praises. But another champ, Andrei Arlovski, doesn’t plan on going back.
“I’m going to stick with Greg Jackson and other trainers from Greg Jackson’s gym if I’m going to keep on fighting,” Arlovski (19-9), who meets Anthony Johnson (14-4) at World Series of Fighting 2, told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
Arlovski, whose fight headlines Saturday’s event at Revel Atlantic City in New Jersey (main-card fights air on NBC Sports Network), incorporated Roach into a training camp before a meeting with Fedor Emelianenko in 2009 under the now-defunct Affliction banner. In hopes of augmenting his striking skills, he and his longtime coaches flew to Los Angeles and worked alongside pro boxers.
At the time, Arlovski contemplated a dual career in the cage and square circle. At the time he held the UFC belt, he was considered one of the better strikers in the heavyweight division before dual losses to Tim Sylvia took his belt and forced him to back to the drawing board.
The fight with Emelianenko ended in disaster. Arlovski’s early gains against the Russian were erased with a flying knee that saw him plucked out of the sky with a right hand, which knocked him out cold in the first round.
Four years later, Arlovski said the trip to California ended up doing more harm than good.
“I paid too much attention to boxing,” he said. “I wanted to try professional boxing. That’s why I didn’t focus on wrestling and jiu-jitsu, and it hurt me.”
The loss to Emelianenko was the first setback of a four-fight skid that sapped his MMA career. A subsequent loss to Brett Rogers, which scratched a professional boxing debut under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, prompted him to move to Jackson’s MMA in late 2009.
Arlovski is now 4-0 with one no-contest since his release from Strikeforce, which came following his fourth straight loss. He works alongside UFC light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones and UFC heavyweight Travis Browne, in addition to a bevy of other top-tier fighters and wrestlers. Boxing plays no greater part than grappling during his training sessions.
“This is a camp that’s much, much better than before,” Arlovski said. “(There are) a lot of sparring partners, so I’m more than happy.
“It’s good to have light heavyweights and heavyweights because they’re not going to be too relaxed in the sparring or the wrestling sessions. You have to be ready all the time to do something or defend something. The last two weeks have been going very, very good for me because I spar a lot with Travis Browne and Jon Jones, and it definitely helped me a lot for my fight.”
Arlovski was surprised at Johnson’s size at a pre-event press conference for the upcoming event. The UFC vet, who once fought at welterweight, was 245 pounds of muscle by his estimation.
A big target to knock down, indeed.
“I want to show some of my skills,” Arlovski said.
“The Pitbull” still has power in his hands, of course. He’s not all sour on his time with Roach. But he knows MMA is about more than just a good punch.
“Definitely I learned from Freddie, and he taught me some cool stuff,” Arlovski said. “But at the same time, I was hurting my momentum in my MMA technique, and I had some problems with my other coaches. It was a good experience, but I’m not going to come back again to a boxing gym.”
For more on WSOF 2, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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