by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
After his upset loss to Randy Couture at UFC 68, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia was met with a shower of boos during his post-fight Octagon interview. In front of more than 19,000 fans, Sylvia alluded to an injury he suffered during training that garnered a thunderous reaction from the crowd.
Was Sylvia making excuses?
Although he may have regretted mentioning about his injury, Sylvia did acknowledge Randy Couture was the better man that evening. “[The pain] was pretty bad, but I think I went in there a little overconfident, thinking ‘all I had to do was hit Randy once’ and it would be over,” humbly stated Sylvia. “I should have pulled out [of the fight] to be honest with you, I really should have. I owed Randy a lot more than that; I owed the UFC a lot more than that. It bothered me a month before the fight and when it got this bad, I should have just pulled out so they could find a replacement or reschedule.”
The “Maine-iac” had surgery at the beginning of the week to alleviate his pain. “Healing up, just had back surgery Monday,” said the former champ. “It went really well. I feel good and I’m actually pain free now. Looking forward to getting released from the doctors and start my rehab.”
After many attempts to rehabilitate his injury, Tim resorted to surgery. “I tried everything. I did three cortisone shots, I did some rehab, muscle sound, ultrasound, massages; I did everything I could and nothing would work. Surgery was my last resort, that’s why I waited so long since the fight. I waited like two months.”
“I had three bulged discs. It was pinching my sciatic nerve. What they did is they made a 4-inch incision on my spine, went in and moved the nerves aside and cut the bulges off that were hindering the sciatic nerve,” explained the Miletich fighter. “I feel great. I have lots of feeling in my left foot. The tingling down my leg, the huge pain in my buttocks and hamstring are no longer there.”
With the unfortunate loss comes a potential opportunity to avenge a previous defeat. At UFC 48, Sylvia faced Frank Mir for the vacant UFC Heavyweight crown. Mir secured an armbar, breaking Tim’s arm in just 50 seconds of the opening round. Since making his comeback from a motorcycle accident, Mir has lost two of his last three fights. After regaining his belt from Andrei Arlovski, Sylvia successfully defended his title twice before losing to Couture. Both fighters need to rebound from tough losses in order to stay in championship contention.
“That fight interests me more than anything,” commented the Maine native. “I definitely would like to avenge that loss and me being the heavy champ, I was never able to do that. I can’t comment on who my next fight’s going to be because I’m injured right now. Whatever the UFC sets forth for me is what I’m going to do. I just want to be treated fair, that’s all.”
April was a month of major upsets. Ultimate Fighter 4 winner Matt Serra did the unthinkable when he finished Georges St. Pierre with strikes, earning him the UFC Welterweight belt. At UFC 70, Gabriel Gonzaga defied odds and knocked out former Pride star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in ironic fashion. After dominating the Croatian fighter for the majority of the first round, Gonzaga landed a devastating right high kick that gave Mirko the worst loss of his career.
“That’s the way the sport has always been. It’s just that you see a lot more guys hungrier now,” said the 31-year old fighter. “Unfortunately, I was hoping to be the one to do that to Cro Cop. We’ve been looking to fight Cro Cop since he came into the UFC. We thought that fight would be down the road. I talked with my boxing coach and the same gameplan we were going to use was the same one Gonzaga used [laughs]. I actually picked Gonzaga to win by TKO, ground and pound or submission. If someone said, ‘I’ll bet you a million dollars he’ll knock him out with a head kick,’ I would have said I’ll take that bet.”
Prior to the Fertittas’ intent to purchase Pride, UFC vs. Pride debates were almost a daily occurrence. With the news of the potential purchase, many of these heated discussions subsided. Mirko’s shocking knockout loss to Gonzaga revitalized some of the wearisome, yet often tumultuous debates among the MMA community.
“It’s kind of funny, all of these Pride guys are supposed to be the best and they’re better than the UFC. Then you got a guy who isn’t ranked in the top ten of the world knocks out the number two guy in the world. I think it goes to show you how much tougher the UFC guys are. Heath Herring came here and he didn’t live up to expectations. Wanderlei got pounded on and Gomi got beat by Nick Diaz…I just don’t know why the fans don’t realize how good the UFC guys are. Things are changing and I’m looking forward to getting back in there and mixing things up with all these guys.”
After the former UFC Heavyweight Champion recovers from his surgery, he plans on regaining the coveted belt that he has owned on two prior occasions.
“I want it back bad. I got to get back there and win the belt…whatever I have to do. If it’s going to be Gonzaga, Randy, Cro Cop, it doesn’t matter. Nogueira, Heath Herring, I want to fight them all. I don’t care who has the belt when I come back. I’m on the road to getting it back and whoever has it, I’m planning on going in there and beating him up.”