I feel bad for Tim Sylvia. I really do.
He'll forever be known as the guy who was knocked out by Ray Mercer in nine seconds. That's a tough one to forget. But before that, back before he decided to leave the UFC for a giant payday from the now-defunct Affliction promotion, Sylvia was one of the best heavyweights in the world.
Granted, the UFC's heavyweight division wasn't very good when Big Timmy ruled it with a doughy fist. Most of the top heavyweights in the world were contracted to PRIDE at the time. But he did the best he could with the cards he was given, putting together a decent—if almost entirely forgettable—run.
But now, Sylvia is on the outside looking in. Despite winning seven of his last eight fights, Big Tim still can't get a crack at the UFC. Even after offering to fight for free, the UFC isn't ringing his cell phone.
Well, they actually did. He was considered for a bout with Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce. It's not the UFC, but it's also a world apart from the minor league shows Sylvia's been inhabiting for the better part of two years. But once the news of Sylvia's return to the big show leaked out, the vicious public outcry over the signing forced Dana White and the UFC to reconsider their offer. The contract that was offered to Sylvia was pulled before being executed by both sides, and Tim found himself without a home yet again.
Sylvia took to the Underground to apologize to everyone who wanted to see him back in the spotlight:
Sorry to all my fans hoping to see me back in the big show. We were talking to the UFC about the dc fight in sf and agreed to it. But for some reason they picked mir instead. It is what it is at least I was considered so maybe in the near future I will be back thanks for all of your support.
Tim seems to be wondering why in the world Zuffa would pick Mir over him. I think I can answer that question, if you'll let me.
Zuffa picked Mir because beating him means more to Daniel Cormier than beating Sylvia would. Cormier is a potential heavyweight title challenger, and his next win needs to be important enough to legitimately vault him into the upper tier of the UFC's heavyweight division. Beating Mir accomplishes that because he's been in the limelight often enough to be a major and enduring star for the company.
Sylvia is the guy who lost to Ray Mercer in nine seconds.
Sure, he's a former UFC heavyweight champion. And again, he's won seven of his last eight fights.
But folks only remember the losses to Mercer, to Emelianenko and to Abe Wagner. They remember Sylvia showing up for fights at 320 pounds, a ballooned and cartooned version of the fighter he used to be. They remember all of the times he whined about the lack of respect he gets from the fans and the media.
They remember all of the times that Dana White went out of his way to make sure the fans knew that Sylvia sucked.
UFC fans have long-lasting and specific memories, which is to say that they remember what they want and ignore the rest of the evidence. And Sylvia is a victim of those memories, but he's also a victim of his own doing.
Do I think Sylvia deserves another chance at the UFC? Sure. Why not? You'll never convince me that he hasn't earned a chance to show up on a preliminary card and face another middling heavyweight.
But I also understand why he's frozen out of the company he so desperately seeks approval from.