Vadim Finkelstein made an offer; Andrei Arlovski refused.
It was 2005, the time of Arlovski's reign as UFC heavyweight champion. His talent and ambition had brought him Stateside in April of 2000 after capturing the European crown of Finkelstein's promotion, M-1 Mix Fight, earlier that year. His UFC 28 debut was a success, announcing his presence in the then-struggling company with a submission victory over Aaron Brink.
Arlovski slowly worked his way to the top of the UFC's heavyweight division, persisting through setbacks at UFC 32 and 36 to wrest the interim, and later official, title away from Tim Sylvia at UFC 51. He was living his American dream.
Then, his old boss came calling.
“Vadim contacted me and said, 'I want you to be a member of my team; train with Fedor,'” Arlovski told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive video interview.
Back in 2000, he was still green as a fighter, and Emelianenko was unknown to him. Five years later, he was well acquainted with the Russian's talents, as was the rest of the MMA world.
There were rumblings of the UFC trying to acquire Emelianenko in 2005 for a mega-fight — proof that the free agency mania surrounding him existed long before post-Bodog and Pride days — which Arlovski took with a grain of salt.