It’s easy to root for Mariusz Pudzianowski when the opposition is Tim Sylvia, an apathetic former UFC champion who now ambles into a cage north of 300 pounds and refers to himself as a “legend” without a hint of irony.
Despite the goodwill of the crowd, Pudzianowski’s appeal as an X factor in MMA came to a gruesome end Friday when Sylvia made quick and honest work of him during Moosin’s first pay-per-view venture. Pudzianowski cannot box, cannot wrestle, and cannot tolerate the acidic build-up of clinching in a fight: he literally turned fuchsia as his body began to revolt at the request for a new kind of physical effort. Tapping in the second round was less about Sylvia’s rubbery strikes than his complete lack of oxygen. Had this fight been held in Colorado, he may have actually exploded.
There are people who gave Pudzianowski a chance in MMA: “he’s so strong,” they said. And he is, but not in a way that holds any real meaning for the sport. A seasoned kickboxer will strike with more impact because they know how. As an added bonus, they won’t look sunburned after two minutes of effort. While much has been made of Pudzianowski’s power, I maintain that most professionals would rather suffer his attack than Pedro Rizzo’s.
If Pudzianowski’s status as a sideshow had been more carefully protected, promoters probably could have milked him for a few more bouts. (Pudziankowski vs. Gary Goodridge, Ken Shamrock, Herschel Walker -- it’s a long list.) After three fights, it should be a dead issue. I’m surprised it took this long.