It’s been a long and painful road downhill for former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia. Since 2008, when high-profile losses to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fedor Emelianenko caused Sylvia to vanish from the high-level MMA landscape, “The Maine-iac” has slowly been working his way back up to a point of relevancy. Many still consider Sylvia an afterthought in today’s growing world of elite Heavyweights, and the cynics got plenty of ammunition yesterday, when Sylvia suffered another first-round, first-minute defeat. So what does the future hold for Tim Sylvia? Is it finally time to call it a career? Here are my thoughts.
I’d like to first start out by saying that I’ve never really had a problem with Tim Sylvia. I know he’s derided as being the “best of the worst”, since it’s generally assumed that Sylvia was a Heavyweight Champion during a time where the UFC’s Heavyweight division paled in comparison to the Heavyweight division of the legendary PRIDE promotion. As a PRIDE fan through and through, I have to admit that that’s true. Sylvia did rule at a time when his division was relatively weak.
But he still ruled.
Sylvia is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. That simply doesn’t happen unless you put in a tremendous amount of hard work and effort. So I will not sit here and discredit what Sylvia did in the UFC.
It’s what he’s done after the UFC that has caused all his problems.
Sylvia lost in under a minute to Fedor Emelianenko… certainly a crushing defeat, certainly a massively deflating loss. He then lost to former boxer Ray Mercer in nine seconds.
From that point onwards it was a long, slow trek through the land of “rock bottom” for the former champion. He managed to assemble a four-fight win-streak, but let’s be honest, the competition he faced was nowhere near the level he used to fight in the UFC, even when you take into consideration the fact that the UFC’s Heavyweight division was weaker than PRIDE’s. Throughout all this we saw a deterioration of two things: Tim Sylvia’s chin, and Tim Sylvia’s gut.
As a sorta-kinda almost-there quasi-Tim Sylvia fan, I can only shake my head at Sylvia’s complete lack of discipline when it comes to keeping his weight in check. I know how tall the man is, I know he’s got a massive frame, but there’s “eating big because you’re big” and then there’s totally letting yourself go. Tim Sylvia was never that muscular of a man, but in his recent fights at Super Heavyweight, he’s looked downright abysmal. And that’s honestly sadder than it is frustrating.
The only solace Sylvia has in his most recent loss is that you could possibly make an argument that the fight was stopped early. Even then, that’s a small comfort when you consider how badly hurt Sylvia was when the fight was stopped. He may not have been out, but he was most assuredly going out.
So what’s left for Tim Sylvia? If fighters allow Tim Sylvia to bully them, Sylvia can still post up dominating victories even while looking horrendously out of shape. But when fighters take the fight to him, when they’re not afraid to strike, Tim Sylvia’s chin is being exposed as the quickly-deteriorating weakness that it is. What’s left for Tim Sylvia? Not much, I’m afraid.
Trust me, I don’t like to say this. I really do think “Big Timmy” is criticized too often and too often kicked while he’s done. But if you asked me to boil this entire article down into one simple equation, here it is: a fat gut plus a bad chin equals bad times.
There’s still hope for him, but not much. He needs to get his weight under control, right now. But even if he does, his chin and its inability to take a stiff punch will still result in him being KO’d in under a minute by anyone smart enough to bring the fight to him. I honestly think Tim Sylvia should retire.
And what about you, fans and friends? What’s your take on the future for Tim Sylvia?