Who is Tim Sylvia trying to kid? Seriously. Does he really think that he will be able to 1) not only keep up with Fedor, but 2) actually beat him?
Yes, Sylvia was the UFC heavyweight champ on more than one occasion. But every single person that he beat to both get there and then to keep it (at least until he lost the belt and left the UFC) was nowhere near the caliber of fighter that Fedor is. At 6’8”, 260lbs, Sylvia simply uses his massive size to try to push his opponent around. He did it twice to Arlovski and even with Monson. Two of those three fights went to decision. Even prior to these wins, he lost to both Arlovski and Mir via two brutal submissions (by two men considerably smaller than he is, and one broke his arm). And I think it is very telling that in his last fight in the UFC against Nogueira, not only did he get submitted, but he tapped so fast that if you blinked you missed it. That tells you something about Sylvia’s skill level. But Big Nog wasn’t even the first truly skilled fighter that he was tested against. When Sylvia was finally pitted against someone who would test him, he crumbled. Big deal that he made it all five rounds with Couture. That fight made him look like the blubbering (literally, with all that flab) fool that he is. He couldn’t push Couture around like his previous opponents. He had no stand up. He had no ground game. I don’t care how big Sylvia is — Couture got him on the ground and dominated him. Couture managed to expose every single one of Sylvia’s weaknesses. And all at 27 years his senior. Couture is arguably the same caliber of fighter as Fedor. Couture was a great indicator for how Sylvia will measure up against Fedor. Clearly, submissions are not Sylvia’s strong point, as this accounts for 3 of his 4 losses. Sylvia will not fare well against a submission expert.
So the question remains. Can Sylvia beat Fedor? Simple answer; not likely. Though it’s arguable that those who have lost to Fedor were not exactly up to his level either, there were many who were dubbed better or at least capable of beating him. Cro Cop, Nogueira, even Coleman. No one thought Fedor would be able to win over the “giant”, Hong Man Choi, and he towers above even Sylvia. And yet he took them all out while hardly breaking a sweat. Size is clearly not a factor when Fedor fights. He’s got the stand up, he’s got the ground game, and he’s a Sambo champion (as well as several other titles in various organizations). You’d be hard pressed to find any fighter with as many submission wins as Fedor, which is where Fedor will stand out over Sylvia. He’s 27-1 for a reason (his sole loss was due to a cut; he later had a rematch and won. Shocker). He is without a doubt, a complete package.
But, is Fedor the MMA god that most people think he is? Probably not. He has to have a flaw somewhere. But is Tim Sylvia the one who will find it? I wouldn’t bet my money on it.
Am I going to get a lot of flack for this? Maybe. But from this angle, the facts and stats don’t lie.