In 2008, Tim Sylvia had two fights: One against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the UFC heavyweight belt, and one against Fedor Emelianenko for the WAMMA heavyweight belt. He lost both, but no one could dispute that Sylvia was one of the major players in the heavyweight division in MMA.
Fast forward to tonight, when Sylvia will have his second fight of 2009. He lost the first in embarrassing fashion to Ray Mercer, a 48-year-old boxer making his MMA debut, and if he loses the second, he'll be banished to permanent irrelevancy.
Tonight's fight is against Jason Riley at the Adrenaline show in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which will air live on HDNet. If Sylvia loses to Riley, a largely unknown heavyweight with a 6-1 record, there's really no way he'd ever turn his MMA career around. At age 33 and on a four-fight losing streak, we could pretty much write off Sylvia as finished in this sport.
Michael Schiavello, who will call the fight for HDNet, quotes Riley as saying he looks forward to ending Sylvia's career:
"I'm ready, yeah, I'm so ready. I would have taken this fight for free. This is my chance to show who I am. I'm going to introduce myself to the entire MMA community tomorrow night at Tim's expense," Jason Riley told HDNet exclusively. ...I expect Sylvia to beat Riley, but he can't just waltz into the cage out of shape and uninterested as he did against Mercer. If he does, it's the last we'll hear of Tim Sylvia.
"He's in a bad position and I'm in a win-win situation. Sylvia can 't afford to lose to me, especially not after his last fight where he got knocked out cold by a fifty year old boxer. I mean that was embarrassing man. I'm going to go in there and finish him, finish his career. I'm going to stand, trade, pick him off and knock him out."