MMA Rewind: Tim Sylvia’s career and legacy

As you may already know, Tim Sylvia was recently denied an MMA license just days before he was supposed to compete on a small club-show in Connecticut.

Seeing Sylvia was clearly vitiated from 14 years of harsh battling — 42 bouts in all — the local commission rightfully barred him from competing. The main cause of this was a suspect MRI result, which caused the commission’s neurologist to advise them not to allow Sylvia to fight.

According to his manager, Monte Cox, an MRI showed up with “something” unapparent earlier in his MMA career. “It could be something or it could be nothing”, he also said in a statement. Opponent Juliano Coutinho was left without an opponent and didn’t manage to find a replacement for that night.

Sylvia took the precautions a step further. The 40-year-old Maine-iac announced his retirement just hours after his bout was disallowed. If 40 sounds a bit uphill, it is because it was only recently discovered that Sylvia is, indeed, 40 years of age. Many sources listed him about two-years shy of such a number until prior to this fight. This news aided in getting Sylvia further screening which helped identify the possible damage.

Be that as it may, this puts an end to an extraordinary, if a bit topsy-turvy, MMA career.

Sylvia was a two-time UFC Heavyweight champion. In his reign, he defeated the likes of Andrei Arlovski (fought four times, 2-1-0 1 NC), Jeff Monson, Brandon Vera, Ricco Rodriguez, and Gan McGee.

It was McGee whom he defeated in his first UFC title defense. Then 16-0 MMA fighter, his reign was cut short due to a failed drug test after the fight, and easy win, over McGee. Anabolic steroid Stanozolol was what caused him to fail. To his credit, Sylvia relinquished his belt immediately after and took the hard road back to big stage.

He would lose two of his next three — against formidable foes in Frank Mir and Arlovski. After locking in three straight wins over the next year, Sylvia was ready for a rematch with Belarusian puncher; one that would mark the winner a UFC champion.

This time, the result was much different. Sylvia was stunned early in the contest, but roared back to batter Arlovski around the octagon and soon forced a first-round technical knockout.

Winning this bout set him on course for a trilogy with Arlovski. That happened just three months later at a UFC 68 show effectively dubbed “Bitter Rivals”. This meeting saw less intensity than the first two. Sylvia played it safe from the outset and used his massive 6’8 height and 80 inch reach to keep the former champion on his heels. Arlovski’s inability close in on Sylvia and break his kickboxing rhythm would lose him an unremarkable five-round unanimous decision. They would later meet in a fourth bout that ended in a pedantry no-contest due to an illegal soccer kick by Arlovski, but, at that pasture, neither was a relevant figure in mixed martial arts.

When he were still relevant, Sylvia would comfortably outpoint Jeff Monson to make his second title defense before crashing into a common impediment. His name was Randy Couture, and he offered Sylvia no breathing room in a five-round defeat – a doleful conclusion to his championship days.

After defeating Brandon Vera, Sylvia would drop back-to-back fights against Antonio Rogerio Noguiera and Fedor Emelianenko — knocking him from the public eye.

In 2009, Sylvia was bludgeoned by former professional boxer turned MMA fighter Ray Mercer. The knockout came just eight seconds into the opening round.

This setback stung the most and effectively ended any hopes he had of resurrecting his career in the UFC, or being a contender in any top promotion. The rest of his career — which lasted until so recently — was spent at a substandard level.

As of October 2013, he lost three straight, but won’t be subjecting himself to further diminution. His decision to retire was a difficult but necessary choice. MMA fans will miss having a gifted striker who wasn’t afraid for a fight to break out. Avoiding the call to battle might have seen him find more success, but his supporters thank him for giving them their money’s worth on multiple occasions. Everyone else thanks him for his own self-preservation. He can move on now with his hands free from such a violent sport; one that he found himself no longer able to partake in.

So, that is all for the Maine-iac. What a ride it was.

May his future find him well.


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