by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
After MMAWeekly broke the news of former UFC champion Randy Couture’s return from retirement to face Tim Sylvia for the UFC Heavyweight Title, the MMA community speculated on how much of an impact the Octagon legend would make.
Tim Sylvia’s fight against Couture at UFC 68 will be Couture’s first since losing to Chuck Liddell back in February of last year. The Miletich-trained Sylvia recently spoke with MMAWeekly to discuss his upcoming fight and the heavyweight division.
“I am so excited about it. Randy is a great friend…he’s a legend and I consider it an honor that I get to fight him,” said the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
So was it a mistake for Couture to come out of retirement to face a dangerous heavyweight in Tim Sylvia? “I do think it’s a mistake,” responded Sylvia. “Randy had troubles in the past with big heavyweights…Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett. He had a real good run at 205 [pounds], beat up some good wrestlers. Then he met a dominant striker named Chuck Liddell. I’ve got the best of both worlds; I’m a huge heavyweight and a dominant striker.”
Couture has a huge task ahead of him in his quest to successfully return to the UFC heavyweight division. Giving up a sizable reach, height, and weight advantage, the former two division UFC champion needs to utilize his wrestling prowess in order to dethrone Sylvia. Up until his last fight against Jeff Monson, Sylvia has never been taken down to the mat in his entire Octagon career. Can the “Natural” take Sylvia down?
“We’ll find out. I don’t think so, but there’s always a chance. I’m sure Randy is watching tapes as well as I am. It’s going to be a fun fight for me and my training camp is going great. There is a huge morale in my camp and a lot of guys are happy for me for this fight.”
Recently, Couture criticized Sylvia, stating that Tim has been fighting mainly not to lose, rather than to win. The current UFC Heavyweight Champion responded to those comments.
“I don’t think they’re justified at all,” stated Sylvia. “[Andrei] Arlovski was game until I rocked him. When I rocked him, he didn’t want to engage. I chased him for a while and I cut him off. As soon as I cut him off, he got out of there. Same thing with [Jeff] Monson; when I threw some big punches and big knees, I hurt him and dropped him. For the most part, he was trying to take me down for the whole fight. You can’t finish somebody when they do stuff like that. I’ve only seen Randy finish somebody like once or twice I think.”
“The role’s reversed a little bit. I think Randy is trying to get himself motivated. I think he’s trying to find ways to make himself think that he can win,” added Sylvia regarding Couture’s comments. “I don’t need to trash talk, I’m the heavyweight champ of the world. I think I’ve proven myself and I’m going out there one fight at a time. Hopefully at the end of the night my hand is raised and I beat a legend.”
With the recent addition of Heath Herring and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, the UFC has bolstered its once barren heavyweight division. “I’m very excited. I’m a fan of both the guys. I’ve sat on the couch and watched both of those guys fight…I enjoy watching them. If things go right on the 3rd and I beat Randy, I should face one of them down the road and put the belt on the line.”
So what happened to a proposed fight with Brandon Vera?
“From what I understand, contract negotiations didn’t go well with Brandon Vera. He wanted a lot more money than the UFC felt he deserved. If he was going to fight me, he wanted to get paid. I think Brandon is a tough kid, he’s a few fights away from a title shot, maturity-wise. He’s got the skills but I really think my size and perseverance would overcome him,” stated the Maine native.
Assuming Sylvia successfully gets past Couture, it seems inevitable that the 6’8″ heavyweight would face former Pride star Mirko Filipovic. “I think ‘Cro Cop’ is tough and I’m happy to see him in the UFC. Regarding him and I fighting, I’m not talking about that right now; right now it’s Randy Couture in front of me. I do want to make one thing clear though, I have never turned down a fight,” emphasized the Miletich fighter.
“[Laughs] People want me to lose all the time and I end up winning. Randy has a chance; I mean he’s Randy Couture, he is a legend. He’s done a lot for this sport and it’s Mixed Martial Arts, anything can happen.”