by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
The lone heavyweight match up on tonight’s UFC: Ultimate Fight Night 3 card pits Brazilian born Assuerio Silva against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia. At first glance I’d be inclined to say Tim Sylvia is going to win this fight and get one step closer to a rematch with Andrei Arlovski or Frank Mir. Further thought tells me it may not be so cut and dry, but it probably is. Tim Sylvia spoke with MMAWeekly from Vegas, and gave his thoughts on tonight’s main event.

Assuerio Silva has a 10-3-0 professional Mixed Martial Arts record. Although six of his ten wins are listed as ‘submissions,’ Silva is a stand-up fighter specializing in Muay Thai who has submission skills. Two of his submission wins were due to strikes, and his striking is on par with his submission game. He’s compiled well more than 30 Vale Tudo matches, but it’s been over a year since he last fought MMA.

Tim Sylvia has a 19-2-0 professional MMA resume, and there’s no question what type of fighter Sylvia is. Thirteen of his nineteen wins are knockouts.

He’s a knockout specialist who only takes the action to the ground to pounce on you after dropping you with a big right hand.

Discussing his opponent, Assuerio Silva, Tim commented, “He’s a tough guy. He likes to stand up and fight. He’s good on the ground, but I’m knocking him out.”

Sylvia answered what concerns him about Assuerio Silva by saying, “He’s unorthodox. He throws the over hand right and stuff like that. He does some funky stuff.”

Looking at Assuerio’s stats, the biggest thing that jumps out to me is he hasn’t fought MMA in over a year. Tim Sylvia’s not a fighter most would choose to make the first fight of a comeback. Ring rust could play a role.

While Silva took 2005 off from MMA competition, Sylvia fought three times: losing to the current UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski, and putting together back to back knockout wins over Mike Block and Tra Telligman.

Tim’s been in there at the highest level while Assuerio will be making his UFC debut. Experience could be a big factor in this fight. Not only will this be Assuerio’s first time in the UFC octagon, it’s going to be televised live on national TV.

It will be the seventh time Tim Sylvia has fought for the UFC, and four of those times were for the heavyweight title. There’s no question the experience factor favors Tim Sylvia, but because of it, he may feel more pressure going into the fight.

Tim Sylvia will be fighting on live TV for the first time as well. Will that be on his mind come fight time? He said, “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s no different for me at all actually.”

Sylvia certainly has a lot more on the line than Assuerio. He’s been on a mission to regain the UFC heavyweight title, and a victory would most likely get him a rematch with one of the only two men who hold wins over him: Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski. If Tim loses, any hopes he has for a title shot in the near future will be gone.

Sylvia claims there is no added pressure and is approaching this fight as just another fight. He said, “It’s not really different for me at all. I mean, I’m just training as it’s a normal fight. Yeah, there’s going to be 30 million watching instead of thousands, but there’s going to be 3,000 people watching instead of 12,000. It’s going to be a small venue, so actually, it might be a little easier fight.”

Like most of his fights, Tim Sylvia is going to have a noticeable size advantage. Assuerio is listed anywhere between 5’11 and 6’1. His weight is listed between 224-240. He’s on the smaller end of the heavyweight spectrum. Tim Sylvia is an imposing figure standing 6’8 and tipping the scales near the weight division limit of 265. Silva will have to overcome Tim’s size and reach, something that only two fighters have ever done.

Most likely, Assuerio has the best chance of winning this fight on the ground. Tim Sylvia’s only two loses were via submissions. Frank Mir broke his arm with an Arm Bar at UFC 48: ‘Payback,’ and Andrei Arlovski defeated Tim with an Achilles Lock at UFC 51: ‘Super Saturday.’ Tim can be submitted, but the question is, can Assuerio Silva submit him?

Tim told MMAWeekly that he’s been working on his submission defense and addressed his two previous submission loses. Sylvia said, “The first one was a freak accident and it should have never happened, but it did. The second one was I just panicked.”

To submit Tim Sylvia, you have to first take him down. He hasn’t really been taken down before. He more followed Frank Mir to the mat than Mir took him down, and Arlovski dropped him with a punch to get him down to the canvas. I don’t think this fight will go to the ground.

Guessing Assuerio’s game plan coming into the fight, Sylvia said, “I think he’s going to have to take me down. I mean that’s the only way he thinks he can win the fight. He’s going to try to take me down.”

Tim was asked if Assuerio could take him down. He answered without hesitation, “No.”

Tim Sylvia will be physically the biggest fighter Assuerio has ever fought, but Silva’s been in the ring with enormous opponents. Aleksander Emelianenko, Fedor’s brother, made his MMA debut against Assuerio. Aleksander stands 6’6 and weighs in at over 250lbs. Emelianenko won the fight by split decision, but Assuerio adapted well to the size difference then. He could do the same tonight.

From a business stand point, this match up is a win, win situation for the UFC. If Tim Sylvia wins, he’s back in line for a rematch with Frank Mir or Andrei Arlovski. If he loses, the UFC adds a legitimate contender into the shallow heavyweight division with Assuerio Silva. If Assuerio has a good showing and loses, it is beneficial to the UFC. If Tim Sylvia wins impressively, it certainly adds some much needed spice to the heavyweight division, especially now that Frank Mir is back.

Tim Sylvia is a huge odds on favorite to defeat Assuerio Silva Monday night, as he should be. I mean, Assuerio Silva is not even on the event poster. But fighting is fighting and anything can happen. I’d expect Tim Sylvia’s hand to be the one raised after it is all said and done.

Tim Sylvia predicted a “knockout.” As to when in the fight, Sylvia stated, “We’ll give him to the second.”