by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Tim Sylvia has wanted a rematch with Andrei Arlovski since he lost to him at UFC 51: ‘Super Saturday’ in February of last year. Wanting and getting are two different things, though. Sylvia had to earn a rematch. After stringing together three consecutive Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) victories, Sylvia has earned his rematch.
Saturday night Tim Sylvia takes on the UFC Heavyweight Champion, Andrei Arlovski, in the main event of UFC 59: ‘Reality Check’ with the title on the line. Tim spoke with MMAWeekly about his rematch with Andrei, what went wrong the first time, and why the rematch will be different.
Although Sylvia is a former UFC heavyweight champion, he has only been in two UFC main event bouts. His first title shot against Ricco Rodriguez headlined the UFC 41: ‘Onslaught’ card, but none of his other three title fights was the main event. His title defense against Gan McGee took second billing to Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz at UFC 44: ‘Undisputed.’ His title match against Frank Mir at UFC 48: ‘Payback’ played second fiddle to Ken Shamrock vs. Kimo Leopoldo. When he and Arlovski faced off for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 51, Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz headlined the card. Oddly enough, Sylvia’s other main event fight was against Assuerio Silva at UFC: ‘Ultimate Fight Night 3′ in January of this year.
The UFC 59 event is being billed as having co-main event fights: Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin and Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia. Given his history of not being the finale fight, Sylvia was asked which match up will close the show. He said, “I’ve been on that short stick every single time except when I fought Ricco . . . The title fight is the main event, the way it should be.”
As event week kicked off, Sylvia told MMAWeekly, “I’m relaxed, calm, patient, waiting. I visualize the fight a lot. When I ran this morning I was visualizing the fight and stuff, and I think I’m going to go out there and knock him out man.”
Expanding on what he sees in his visions, Tim commented, “I see he and I standing toe to toe and trading some big punches and him going to sleep.”
In their first meeting, they stood toe to toe and exchanged big shots with Arlovski landing a devastating overhand right that dropped Sylvia. Immediately after Tim hit the canvas, Andrei applied an Ankle Lock, tapping Sylvia out just 47 seconds into the fight. Discussing their first in octagon encounter, Sylvia said, “I was lazy in that fight. And I was too confident. I just didn’t prepare to be on the ground. I was thinking it was going to be a stand up fight no matter what and didn’t train for the ground at all, really.”
He continued, “I was just looking for the big right hand like I always do. I’m a different fighter now. I’m not looking for that. He was fast. He was a lot faster than I thought he was. I didn’t expect that. He came in and threw his punches before I got one off.”
Questioned what he has done to make the outcome different this time, Tim answered, “I’m ready for anything, stand up, him trying to take me down, if I need to take him down, grappling; whatever happens in this fight I’m ready for. No excuses. No excuses this time.”
Tim told MMAWeekly on Monday that he was weighing 250lbs. He was as low as 246, but expects to step on the scales Friday afternoon somewhere in the neighborhood of 260. He said, “I”ve dropped my weight down, so I’m in better shape and a little lighter. I should be able to match his speed.”
The first time they fought, Sylvia didn’t feel he prepared as much as he could have. That’s not the case this time around. He said, “I’ve been watching his fights religiously. We’ve been breaking them down. We watched them. We broke down a game plan. We’ve been executing the game plan during practice. We’re really confident it is going to work, and I’m going to knock him out.”
Tim Sylvia has been locked in the cage with ‘The Pitbull’ before. He now knows what to expect. He has made adjustments. He has studied the tapes. He feels his game plan is solid. He is in better shape than the last time. Will it be enough? We’ll find out Saturday night when they lay it all on the line for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. “No excuses this time.”