UFC 47: It’s On! Preview

Tim Sylvia vs. Andre Arlovski

Mar 30, 2004
Heavyweight Title Bout: Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia vs. Andre Arlovski

ANDRE ARLOVSKI: Russian Sambo wrestler, kickboxer, International Master of Sport, two-time World Sambo Champion, M-1 World and European Championships veteran (2-1), European Cage Fighting veteran, trains with Sambo and Muay Thai fighter Dmitri Stepanov, kickboxer Andre Dudko and Rickson Gracie student Dino Costeas, with a 7-3 record in MMA, making his 6th appearance (4-1) in the UFC

Abbreviated Fight History: Andrei was also brought up to be an athlete. He was a soccer goalie as a teenager but gave the sport up. He enrolled in the police academy at 18 and began learning Russian Sambo. His training continued and by obtaining the title “International Master of Sport”, Arlovski has been exposed to boxing, sambo, wrestling, judo and a variety of military style training tactics. To put it simply, it means he had a hard road up and qualifies as a very bad dude. Andrei fought in the M-1 in Russia and a few of the European Cage Fighting Championships put on by Frederico Lapenda. He first fought for the UFC in 2000 and has fought sporadically since that time due to injuries. However back-to-back stoppages of UFC veterans Ian Freeman and Vladimir Matyushenko were awarded with a title shot for the unclaimed heavyweight title against former champion Tim Sylvia.

Arlovski/Aaron Brink: Arlovski’s debut was at UFC 28 against Team Punishment heavyweight Aaron Brink. We didn’t see much of Andre that first night as Brink was leg locked in under a minute.

Arlovski/Ricco Rodriguez: Arlovski returned 8 months later at UFC 32 to face former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco “Suave” Rodrigues. Arlovski ran into Ricco on his climb for the title and was taken out with strikes early in the 3rd round.

Arlovski/Pedro Rizzo: Andre had a gutsy performance at UFC 36 against Pedro Rizzo. He impressed many in defeat as the battle with Rizzo was a toe-to-toe war few thought he was capable of. Arlovski was dropped by the heavy handed Brazilian midway through the 3rd round.

Arlovski/Ian Freeman: Arlovski opened with some wicked leg kicks and overhand rights. The size advantage was just too much for Freeman to handle. Three punishing rights from Arlovski leftt Freeman slumped in the corner in the 1st round.

Arlovski/Vladimir Matyushenko: Andre punished his comrade in the “Battle of Belarus”, controlling the bout from the onset and KOing Vlady in just over two minutes into the opening round.

Strengths And Weaknesses: Arlovski’s kickboxing skills that were key in the bout with Rizzo (a seasoned Muay Thai fighter) will be simply invaluable here. Andrei is used to a fast-paced battle and has acquired the taste for striking in the UFC. A weakness of sorts on Andrei’s part could be his willingness to play the other guy’s game. He’s been KO’d twice and battered by Ricco Rodriguez so hopefully he’s learned “when to say when” and recognizes the signs to bring his opponent to the mat.

How He Can Beat Sylvia: On the mat. We haven’t seen Tim much on the ground and Arlovski’s sambo training may neutralize the big man’s reach. If Andre can cut off the ring and stay close where Tim will have trouble unloading, he may be able to answer some long pondered questions about Sylvia’s grappling on route to a submission victory.

TIM SYLVIA: Submission fighter, traditional karate stylist, Extreme Challenge veteran, Superbrawl veteran, Gladaiator Challenge Superfight Champion, Maine Skirmish veteran, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, trains with Jeremy Horn, Matt Hughes, Pat Miletich and members of Miletich Fighting Systems, with a 17-1 record in MMA, making his 4th appearance (3-0) in the UFC

Abbreviated Fight History: Sylvia took karate in high school and studied wrestling and grappling after that, using his skills to compete in local grappling events. He began his MMA career fighting in the Rhode Island Vale Tudo events where he went 1-1. He next appeared in the IFC Battleground 2001 event and stopped his opponent Randy Durant with strikes in just over two minutes. From there he entered other smaller MMA shows including the Gladiators Challenge in California and the Ultimate Wrestling event in Minnesota. He then made a number of appearances in Monte Cox’s Extreme Challenge events. His UFC debut took place at UFC 39 against Wesley “Cabbage” Correira in a bout that became instant legend. The stand-up war commanded immediate respect for both fighters’ toughness. Sylvia was a huge underdog but took the title from Ricco Rodriguez in a first round stoppage (predicted by me, thank you) and defended his title against fellow giant Gan Mcgee. However, after the McGee fight, it was learned that Sylvia had been using steroids and he was stripped of his title. The road back to respect begins with a bout for the very same title he lost.

Sylvia/Gabe Beauperthy: Gabe brought Tim down immediately and worked the G’n’P. Sylvia put Beauperthy full guard and was able to strike effectively from the mat. They stayed in the guard until the end of the round. Gabe got another huge takedown to open round 2 and was controlling the whole fight. Sylvia had a reversal at the very end of the round and applied a leg lock but did nothing with it. Again in round 3 Gabe got the takedown and sat in half mount. Somehow Sylvia reverses position, unloads strikes, gets a takedown, gets Gabe’s back and chokes him out all in the course of 1 minute to claim the title.

Sylvia/Wesley Correira: What a bout. This was unquestionably one of the fights of the year. Sylvia and Correira slugged it out in a bout the crowd truly enjoyed. Sylvia’s punches were accurate and deadly and Correira simply soaked up the punishment, refusing to tap. Finally, about two minutes into the second round Wesley’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel.

Sylvia/Ricco Rodriguez: Tim fought a smart fight and took advantage of Ricco’s lack of confidence standing. He thwarted a takedown from Rodriguez and then slammed Ricco to the canvas. Once on the mat, Sylvia jammed a strike straight down the pike and finished Rodriguez in just over three minutes in the 1st round.

Sylvia/Gan McGee: McGee comes out hands low and swings lazy jabs at Sylvia and even lands one early. Sylvia looks totally composed and is defending well. Tim shoots jabs out of his defense but didn’t cut loose right away. They exchange in close and Tim lands a right to the face as Gan spins away from a failed takedown attempt. Tim keeps pressing the action and Gan answers back with a jab and low roundhouse kick but back peddling the whole time. The punches get stiffer as Sylvia closes the gap and then he unloads. Three hard rights set it up and send McGee to the mat. Gan gets to his knees but Tim lands five unanswered blows to his head on the canvas before John McCarthy breaks it up.

Also worthy of note: Sylvia battled Ben Rothwell (win/decision), Jorge Rivera (loss/decision)

Strengths And Weaknesses: Size is usually Tim’s greatest advantage but not quite as much here since Andre is about 6’5. Sylvia’s stand-up striking is very solid and deadly accurate. Tim throws combinations and compliments them with knees to the body. When looking for a weakness, the majority of his wins are by KO or TKO so one has to question his groundgame. However, he’s a Miletich fighter so you know his attack will be balanced.

How He Can Beat Arlovski: A stand-up battle is expected since both have dominated their opponents with strikes. Sylvia’s boxing skills may actually be more refined. If he connects the way he did with “Cabbage” and McGee, Arlovski will be on the canvas early and often.

MY PICK: Sylvia. This was a tough call as I am a big fan of both fighters and could see either one winning. Both fighters deserve to be here but I have seen Arlovski lose at this level when he tested the limits of his abilities in someone else’s backyard; with Rizzo standing and with Rodriguez on the mat. It may be Andre’s “take it to him” attitude coupled with Sylvia’s reach and deadly accuracy that decided this one. Something tells me Sylvia continue to throw knees and elbows moving forward until Arlovski is asleep or cannot get back up. I feel it will be Sylvia by TKO from strikes in the 2nd Rd.

DOWN THE ROAD:

Arlovski/Ricco Rodriguez: There’s talk of Ricco returning to the UFC. He’s out of the current title mix and holds a win over contender Arlovski. A rematch would show just how far these two have come.

Arlovski/Frank Mir: Mir took out Sims with strikes but could he hang on the feet with a real striker like Arlovski? Could Arlovski avoid the fast paced submissions of Mir? This bout may be on stand bye for Friday night and it could happen that soon.

Sylvia/Wesley “Cabbage” Correira: A “Cabbage” win and a Sylvia win makes this rematch a near lock. Zuffa should want it too, given the absolute war the first bout was.

Sylvia/Emelianenko Fedor: Sylvia has mentioned Fedor by name in the octagon. He wants this fight. He may have to leave the UFC for it to happen. If the rumors of trouble brewing with Tim are true, he may get his shot at Emelianenko sooner than later.

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