Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia Announces Retirement From MMA

By Greg Savage and Tristen Critchfield Jan 6, 2015
Tim Sylvia retires with a 31-10 record. | Taro Irei/

Tim Sylvia has retired from mixed martial arts after 42 professional fights.

The ex-UFC heavyweight titlist announced his decision shortly after he did not receive medical clearance to compete at a Reality Fighting Card at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., this past Saturday.

Related » Poll: Should Sylvia be in the UFC Hall of Fame?

Initially, both Sylvia’s manager, Monte Cox, and the fighter himself were unsure as to why Sylvia was unable to compete against Juliano Coutinho as originally planned. Mike Mazzulli, Director of Athletic Regulation for the Mohegan Tribe, recently offered an explanation to

“Every fighter that turns 40 years old in any combat sport is required to provide an expanded battery of tests including an MRI and a stress test,” Mazzulli wrote. “Our neurologist, Dr. Tony Alessi, informed me that one of the test results Tim submitted was problematic. This does not preclude him from fighting in the future, but he will have to be cleared by a doctor before doing so.”

Sylvia is listed as 38 years old on his Fight Finder profile, but according to a report by, the Mohegan commission did not discover the heavyweight’s real age until three days before the event. That revelation required the additional tests and ultimately led to Sylvia not being cleared to fight.

"The commission didn't realize Tim was over 40 until three days before the event," Cox told "There were some things on the MRI that weren't on another MRI we had on file from 2003, meaning something happened over the course of the last 11 years. A neurologist said it could be something or it could be nothing.

"I think it's the end. He had gotten to a point where his body, through all the wars, just wasn't able to get in the kind of shape he used to,” Cox continued.” Obviously, you could see that in his weight. He just can't get into competitive form. I think [retirement] is good. With this MRI, why go on, when you're only getting paid a fraction of what you're worth?"

Sylvia made his professional debut on Jan. 19, 2001 and posted a 31-10 mark with one no contest over the course of a career that concluded with a unanimous decision loss to Ruslan Magomedov at Fight Nights “Battle of Moscow 13” on Oct. 26, 2013.

Known as “The Maine-iac,” Sylvia first captured the UFC’s heavyweight crown in 2003 with a victory over Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 41. After losing to belt to Frank Mir at UFC 48, he would eventually regain the strap with a first-round stoppage of Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59. He parted ways with the Las Vegas-based promotion following a submission defeat to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81.

Sylvia, who went 7-6 after his final Octagon appearance, suffered three knockout defeats over the course of his pro career.

“He can go back and get another MRI in a year, but basically what they're saying is there's damage from blunt force trauma," Cox told "He's got damage there. Does it affect his everyday life? Not so far. Not that he can tell -- but it's certainly something to pay attention to."


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