File Photo: Sherdog.com
While it has never been easy to be a Tim Sylvia fan -- the tall, smug fighter is neither an underdog nor ring dynamite -- the past year has been especially troublesome. Since the former UFC heavyweight champion defected from that promotion in 2008 to pursue a big money deal with Affliction, he has endured two losses in three fights. One of them was forgivable (the loss to King Fedor) and one was not (a viral video KO at the elderly hands of pro boxer Ray Mercer).
To enjoy more exposure in Strikeforce or in Japan, Sylvia will have to turn the punchline title over to Mariusz Pudzianowski, the no-necked strongman champion who is pursuing an improbable career in MMA. In two fights, Pudzianowski has displayed skill on the level of a very large, very powerful child throwing a tantrum. If he had an iota of wrestling ability, his physical pressure would be a nightmare. But as a fighter, he relies solely on explosive movements and basic brute force; as a novelty act, he falls somewhere in between Primo Carnera and the Green Power Ranger.
This is all high risk for very little reward. Sylvia beating Pudzianowski is an unremarkable chapter in the story of his career. Not beating him would probably be the end of it.
What It Means: For Sylvia, an opportunity to display a restored commitment to conditioning; for Pudzianowski, preserving his value as a carnival attraction.
Might Look Like: A complete mess.
Wild Card: Pudzianowski just fought two weeks ago. While beginners can maintain a busy fight schedule, they’re usually much younger. And better. And not facing former champions.
Who Wins: Unless Sylvia has completely checked out, Pudzianowski will get a boxing lesson similar to the jab-fest suffered by equally squat-framed Jeff Monson back in 2006. Sylvia by TKO.