(Image courtesy of Sherdog.)
By Seth Falvo
Yeah, I know we’ve written otherwise around these parts. I understand that he hasn’t won a fight since defeating a thirty-eight year old journeyman sporting a 13-11 record back in 2012, that he probably can’t make 265 pounds without amputating something, and that he’s been a subject of scorn during pretty much every CagePotato Roundtable we’ve published. I secretly realize that there isn’t a single thing that Tim Sylvia has done within the past two years to justify bringing him back to the world’s premier MMA organization.
But there’s something remarkably hypocritical about acknowledging that the UFC is a sports entertainment company, then crying foul when one of the biggest stars of the mid-to-late 2000s is offered that final fight in the UFC he’s been so desperately seeking, so let’s not do that.
Instead of focusing so heavily on the sports, let’s actually focus on the entertainment that Tim Sylvia has provided us over the years. Personally, I was still in high school during the Tim Sylvia Era. A friend had exposed me to his collection of UFC events, and I immediately became hooked. I won’t claim that I was the biggest fan of the then-heavyweight champion — even with my limited knowledge of MMA, I realized Sylvia was an unrefined fighter — but there was something inspiring about watching him compete. “The Maine-iac” managed to achieve the highest honor in his sport, despite being the last person on the planet who most people would look at and think “professional athlete.” And of course, his rivalry with Andrei Arlovski helped make things interesting, even when his fights occasionally weren’t.
I’m willing to bet that most of our readers in their mid-to-late twenties have identical stories. And though the times have changed — I’d never believe you if you told me I’d one day be covering this crazy sport — and MMA has evolved considerably, there’s still a part of me that would totally mark out over the sight of Tim Sylvia inside the Octagon one last time. The fact that he’d be getting re-signed merely one week after his old nemesis Andrei Arlovski found his way back into the UFC would only make things better.
To those of you who are rolling your eyes at the suggestion of trotting out Tim Sylvia to feed our love of nostalgia, I have to question whether that’s any more offensive than what we’re currently being asked to pay for on Fight Pass. Is a preliminary scrap featuring a fighter you actually recognize — and probably still care about — any less legitimate than, say, a top-ten heavyweight squaring off against a doughy light-heavyweight known for his Homer Simpson-esque ability to take punches and not much else? If you answered yes, perhaps the nicest thing that can be written about you is that you’re very, very gullible.
Tim Sylvia was never the ideal heavyweight fighter, but then again, the UFC was never strictly about fighting. The UFC — for better and for worse — is about sports entertainment. And Tim Sylvia — for better and for worse — has always entertained us.