File Photo: Dave Mandel|Sherdog.com
At a point I can’t even identify, Tim Sylvia became a punchline. This was not always the case. From the beginning, he was awkwardly built -- to the point where he was once popped for banned substances just to streamline his frame -- but had earned the right to be taken seriously. He was a 6’8” heavyweight who used his reach and boxing to make life hell for opponents. He ran a five-fight win streak in the UFC. He knocked out Andrei Arlovski and Ricco Rodriguez when it counted. He busted up Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. There was something there.
Then came the big-money offer to fight Fedor Emelianenko. (He lost.) Then came the viral video loss to Ray Mercer, a 48-year-old boxer who was once submitted by Kimbo Slice. Then came the attempts to book garbage fights against Wes Sims to powder and diaper his ego. A guy makes those moves, and the jokes start writing themselves.
Unfortunately, Sylvia’s latest bid is another monkeys-on-unicycles brainstorm: he’s slated to fight “world’s strongest man” Mariusz Pudzianowski May 21. It will be Massachusetts’ first sanctioned mixed martial arts card. If first impressions count, the state had better hope for a power outage.
Sylvia doesn’t need these fights. What he needs are competitive bouts that can help restore some of the intimidation factor. There is still a place in the heavyweight division for a decent boxer with arms like telephone poles who is hell to take down. He should book a Mercer rematch to correct that glitch, and then pursue fights in Strikeforce or Dream that could put him in some kind of position for a comeback. If he loses to Pudzianowski, a fire hydrant of a man with one “pro” fight to his name, there isn’t going to be anything left of his career to salvage.