Tim Sylvia caught both pre- and post-fight criticism surrounding his matchup Friday against Mariusz Pudzianowski, but he says he doesn’t care about anyone’s disapproval.
The former UFC heavyweight champion won the bout with relative ease. He was met with criticism the day before, though, when he weighed in at 305 pounds. That’s 40 pounds more than the heavyweight limit, but Sylvia says his weight was where he wanted it.
“I did that on purpose,” he explained Monday on the Sherdog Radio Network’s Savage Dog Show. “I wanted to be heavy for the fight. I wanted to be as big as he was. … When we took the fight, he was 336 pounds and then he was 300 during the press conferences we were doing. He lost another 23 pounds between the press conferences and when it came to the actual fight day. I actually hit 285 during training and then I just went back to eating five times a day again. At the peak of my training, I was 285, which is pretty much what I am when I fight for the UFC -- actually about 275 and then I cut 10 pounds to make the weight when I fight (at 265).”
Sylvia’s strategy was to be careful during the first two minutes. He expected Pudzianowski to try for takedowns rather than strike much with him, and he was right.
“He didn’t have the reach, and him being so muscle-bound, he couldn’t throw straight punches to begin with,” Sylvia said. “We knew he was going to kick and then try to get me down to the ground.”
Pudzianowski, a five-time World’s Strongest Man, landed an opening kick. Sylvia was unbothered.
“It wasn’t a good leg kick,” he said. “It was just hard and powerful. He didn’t kick me where he was supposed to kick me. If you kick anybody, like the three I put on him, you want to kick on the quad. That way it takes your legs away. He kicked me in the calf. And then the next one was just below the knee and the third one I was able to check.”
Other than giving up a takedown and quickly getting back to his feet, Sylvia controlled the rest of the bout. He made Pudzianowski tap to strikes on the ground 1:43 into the second period. After the fight, he caught more flak for referring to himself as “something of a legend in MMA.”
“I know what I’ve done,” he responded Monday. “I know no one else has been a five-time UFC heavyweight champ besides Randy (Couture). As soon as Brock (Lesnar) defends it and makes that, then he’s in that division too, but no one else is. Not even Arlovski.”
Sylvia has long been viewed by many as a villain in the sport. Asked if he might try to change public perception now that he’s climbing back up the ranks after a string of losses -- including a knockout defeat to aged boxer Ray Mercer -- Sylvia said “nope” with a laugh.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I am who I am. I’ve made statements and stuff. If you hate me, I hate you. I don’t care. I don’t care if you don’t like me, to be honest with you. That’s just the way it is. I’m not going to change for anybody. I’m not going to kiss people’s butts and so on and so forth. That’s just not me. I’m from the East Coast, and that’s just the way we’re all brought up.”
The 34-year-old Sylvia explained that part of the tension between him and fans might stem from them meeting him during fight week.
“I’m drastically different,” he said of his fight-week personality. “I have no patience. I’ve worked my butt off for 10 weeks to prepare myself for my opponent, and it’s constantly going through my mind. When I go to bed, when I get up, it’s all about who I’m fighting and what I have to do to win this fight. That’s when a lot of the fans, they’ll come in to the show and they’ll see this standoffish guy who’s set on beating the guy in front of me. Maybe that’s it?”
Regardless, don’t expect Sylvia to change. He’s less interested in public favor and more interested in making another run. His plan is to fight again in July or August at 265 pounds and move on to a major promotion.
“I’d like to think (by) 2011,” Sylvia said, “I’d like to be with Strikeforce or UFC.”
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