I think you got it exactly right. The UFC are using Jakes boring style to either get Arlovski to grind out a decision or lose.
They want another long drawn out fight so they can offer him the same contract or maybe a little more.
I personally can't see him losing mainly because he's a master sport at sambo and could always sub O'brian if he L&P's him for 3 rounds, not to mention AA's been training in submission wrestling and grappling for the past 2 years and is harder to take down than many give him credit for.
But back on track I see your point the UFC given him a fight that they think will be boring rather than a fight for the fans the fans.
If he fights Cro Cop and wins (Just as a example please don't flame) a fight many of the fans want to see.
He could command a similar contract to him and I'v read a few places he's the highest earning HW the UFC have. Where as playing it safe with O'brian and his L&P tactics don't really warrant a massive rase when he wins, or if he loses they could offer him the same contract or less and have the loss to use to their advantage.
Similarly AA could (and i think will) smash O'Brian and show the UFC what he's capable of.
As you said their plan could easily back fire and AA could get the win with one big right. Giving him the perfect chance to sign a new improved contract and get right back into the top 2 contenders.
I hope he does get the contract he wants and the UFC figure out he's a top 5 HW in the world in a devision in the UFC that has 6 or 7 top tier fighters. With out him the HW devision would lose a lot of depth.
I can't see Couture coming back so that only further weakens their HW draw.
With AA and Couture gone the title would stay with Nog or move between him and Sylvia with very few others challenging for it.
I can't see Gonzaga beating Nog or Tim neither can't I see Werdum doing much damage. Brock needs a good few years before he's given a hope of hanging with them. Kongo couldn't beat Tim as Tim has faster hands and an loner reach which Kongo relies on a lot.
The only real threat to the HW title is Tim(again), Cro Cop when he regains his form and Arlovski.
I hope the UFC realize this and give Arlovski the respect and contract he deserves.
(Sorry for the long read but he's my boy!)