It was just three short years ago that Tim Sylvia took on former Pride heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the interim heavyweight championship at UFC 82. Although he was unsuccessful in that bout, the two-time UFC heavyweight champion looked better than he had in awhile. The main gripe with Sylvia was that he had become gun-shy since being dropped by Andrei Arlovski in their first bout back in 2005.
After the loss to Nogueira, the UFC and Sylvia parted ways. It was time for Big Tim to move on and no one wanted to see him battle for the heavyweight title anymore. Luckily for Sylvia Affliction was looking to expand from a t-shirt company into a full-fledged MMA promotion and matched him up against the man many feel is the greatest heavyweight of all time in Fedor Emelianenko.
What happened in that fight was just the beginning of Sylvia's downfall. It culminated last night in what was a complete embarrassment to Sylvia and the sport.
Affliction was banking on Fedor becoming as big of a star in America as he was in Japan while ruling Pride's heavyweight division with an iron fist. A lot of casual fans weren't all that familiar with Fedor, but Tim Sylvia had become a recognizable name while fighting for the UFC. Sylvia was coming off an exciting loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Affliction was hoping that his name would bring in pay-per-view sales as well as help the fans become more familiar with Emelianenko.
The entire fight lasted all of 36 seconds with Fedor pouncing on the much-slower Sylvia from the opening bell. Sylvia was completely caught off-guard and before he knew it he was tapping out to a rear naked choke. All this fight accomplished was exposing Sylvia, and it became the start of what would be a precipitous drop in Sylvia's career.
One year after the drubbing Sylvia received at the hands of Emelianenko, he was ready to step back in the cage against 48-year old former world boxing champion and Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer. The match-up was originally scheduled to take place in New Jersey as a boxing match, but the New Jersey state athletic control board refused to sanction the fight. Sylvia's manager Monte Cox, also the card promoter, relocated the card to Birmingham.
Just days before the bout, the Alabama Athletic Commission forced the bout to be contested under the unified MMA rules which should have been a huge advantage to Sylvia. Mercer agreed to the change. Sylvia weighed in at an enormous 310 lbs and looked like he had been practicing for the Oreo Double Stuff Racing League as opposed to an MMA fight. This bout lasted exactly 1/4 of the time the fight with Fedor did as Mercer landed one right hand, sending Sylvia crashing to the canvas.
Prior to his fight with Mercer, Affliction was prepared to offer him a fight with former UFC heavyweight contender Paul Buentello at what was to be their third event Trilogy. After watching Sylvia come in to his bout with Mercer in horrible shape and then getting knocked out in the fashion he did, Affliction pulled the bout with Buentello off of the table. The repercussions from the Mercer bout not only cost Sylvia any respect he had left, but now it was affecting his ability to make money.
Sylvia was then matched up with little-known Jason Riley at Adrenaline 4 in September of 2009. Although Sylvia defeated the much smaller Riley, it didn't do much to repair his tarnished reputation. He was still unable to make the heavyweight limit of 265 lbs, forcing this bout to be contested at super heavyweight.
Sylvia was scheduled to face former foe Wes Sims in Ohio, but the Ohio State Athletic Commission deemed the bout to be non-competitive. Cox attempted to have the bout moved to Nova Scotia under the IFC banner, but thankfully it never came to fruition.
Up next was a bout with former World's Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski at a Moosin event in May of 2010. Once again Sylvia earned a victory, but this time it was against a man who had all of two career mixed martial arts bouts to his credit. It was apparent from the beginning of the bout that Pudzianowski had no business being in a fight with Sylvia.
California-based Powerhouse Promotions decided that they wanted to match Sylvia up against Buentello for their heavyweight championship. This time Sylvia was able to make a weight limit of 275 lbs and defeated Buentello via second-round knockout. It was announced after the bout that Sylvia's first title defense would be against former UFC heavyweight title contender Pedro Rizzo.
On December 11, Sylvia fought Vince Lucero at a CFX/Extreme Challenge event in Minneapolis. Lucero came into the bout with a stellar 19-18 record and may have been in worse shape than Sylvia. It didn't take long for Sylvia to finish Lucero off as he landed a barrage of punches, causing Lucero to tap out to strikes.
As if all that you have read thus far wasn't bad enough, let's take a brief look at what happened last night in Kansas City, Kansas. Sylvia was a replacement for Todd Duffee, who chose to take a bigger payday against Alistair Overeem on New Year's Eve in Japan. Sylvia came into this bout weighing in at an astounding 311 lbs, compared to Wagner's 258 lbs. The bookmakers had Sylvia at minus-$450 which is a pretty heavy favorite and this time I am not talking about his weight.
Wagner's claim to fame had been his participation on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. He came in to this fight with Sylvia with a 7-3 record and his biggest win was against Sherman Pendergarst back in December of 2008. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but a fight is fought for a reason.
Wagner needed four seconds less than Fedor did, as he was able to frustrate Sylvia with leg kicks before landing a big right hand that sent the big fella stumbling backwards. Wagner charged ahead and landed some solid punches sending Sylvia falling face forward to the mat. That was enough for the referee who stepped in and halted the bout at 32 seconds of the first round. It may have been a bit premature, but at this point, does it really matter? Sylvia is done, stick a fork in him. He was talking about getting back to the big show prior to this fight, he'd be lucky to get a fight in a high school gymnasium at this point.