Monday, June 15, 2009
In light of his 10 second knockout loss to former heavyweight boxing champ Ray Mercer on the weekend, a lot of people around the MMA world are shedding a tear for poor Tim Sylvia.
Don't count me among them.
While I've never been a Tim Sylvia fan, this isn't about my lack of enjoyment of watching him fight, so much as it's about setting the record straight on a guy who gets way too much credit for a mediocre run in Mixed Martial Arts.
I know - he's a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion ...
Matt Serra was the UFC Welterweight champion at one point and earned the belt by knocking out one of the best fighters on the planet.
The point here: having a big, shiny belt holding up your pants doesn't make you a superstar. Sometimes, you just get in a lucky punch or - as in Sylvia's case - you come around at the right time and get some lucky breaks.
Sylvia defeated Ricco Rodriguez for the heavyweight belt at a crossroads for the heavyweight division. Up and comers hadn't quite reached title contention and veterans like Rodriguez and Gan McGee, whom Sylvia beat in his first defense, were no longer in their prime.
Secondly, how come Sean Sherk gets dogged about steroids but no one seems to mention it in regards to Sylvia? After all, that is why he dropped the belt in the first place, as a result of a positive test and six month suspension.
Had Frank Mir not gotten into his motorcycle accident, Tim Sylvia wouldn't have been a two-time champion. Andrei Arlovski wouldn't have held the belt either. I know it's revisionist history and awful convenient for me to use this line in making a case against Sylvia, but Mir was that damn good prior to getting injured.
Sure, he regained the belt by knocking out Andrei Arlovski, but we've come to learn that that might be easier than we once thought. The unanimous decision over Jeff Monson is still surprising to me, especially considering Sylvia held his own on the ground and even attempted a triangle at one point.
Then the losses started piling up.
He dropped the belt to Randy Couture and while a win over Brandon Vera followed, another hand-raising ceremony has yet to take place.
He's been in the ring for 46 seconds in his last two fights.
Does it suck that his manager told him to leave the UFC? Absolutely, but he didn't have to leave the UFC. I mean really, who takes that advice?
"Hey, leave the biggest organization in your field where you've been champion twice. No one else has any real money or staying power, but we'll be big stars." Yeah, sure Monte ...
Ultimately though, I think we're just seeing the truest version of Tim Sylvia imaginable. He likes to fight but isn't well-rounded enough to compete on the highest level. Additionally, boxing is a bad decision, at least when it involves former heavyweight champions.
Outside of Arlovski, who'd he beat? When the chips were down, Sylvia lost to the better opponent time and time again, whether it's Mir, Couture, Nogueira or Fedor and just happened to catch a run of lesser competition when he had a belt around his waist.
We need to stop lamenting the bad hand Tim Sylvia has been dealt and call it like it is: a guy who took some bad advice and is now an MMA Mercinary, taking whatever fight will pay him the most.