Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia was supposed to have been in the cage fighting at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night.
He was in the cage in Connecticut, but he didn’t fight. Instead, Sylvia announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.
Sylvia had been slated to fight Juliano Coutinho at a Reality Fighting event on Saturday, but after reportedly tipping the scales at 371 pounds for the fight, the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation determined that the results of Sylvia’s medical evaluation were such that he needed further evaluation. He was not cleared to fight.
Instead of foregoing further medical tests, which Sylvia’s manager Monte Cox said had already consisted of “a stress test, MRI, EKG, eye, blood and physical,” Sylvia decided it was time to hang up his gloves.
Sylvia told the crowd that it was the end of his career and that there was an issue with his MRI and that the commission had basically said his body had been through enough punishment over the course of his career.
Never really a star athlete, Sylvia found some success in martial arts as a young adult, while also working mostly manual labor-type jobs in Maine.
After winning a fight on an amateur event in Rhode Island, Sylvia sold everything and moved to Iowa, where he began his professional career in 2001 as part of UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich’s pioneering team alongside the likes of Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Jeremy Horn, Tony Fryklund, and numerous others.
He rode an unbeaten streak of thirteen fights into the Octagon, where he won the UFC heavyweight championship in only his second fight for the promotion, defeating Ricco Rodriguez in 2003. He would lose the belt two fights later to Andrei Arlovski, only to win it back by defeating Arlovski in 2006.
Sylvia left the UFC in 2008, after failing to win the interim championship in a fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He went on to fight and lose to Fedor Emelianenko in the failed Affliction fight promotion in his next bout.
Having competed mostly at super heavyweight since exiting the Octagon, Sylvia has long struggled with his weight, which has lead to a mediocre post-UFC career, winning seven fights, losing six, and having one bout ruled a no-contest.
Although he’s calling an end to his career on a down note, Sylvia rose to the pinnacle of the sport during his UFC tenure as a representative of the blue-collar man, fighting many of the top heavyweights of his era.