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Tim Sylvia Overcomes Mariusz Pudzianowski, Rowdy Moosin Crowd

WORCESTER, Mass. -- It wasn't a fight that's going to add to his legacy, but it was a fight he needed to win, simply because he couldn't afford to lose. Tim Sylvia answered the call, turning back an early charge before beating the overmatched, five-time World's Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski before 6,500 fans at the Moosin: God of Martial Arts event at the DCU Center.

Sylvia trapped an exhausted Pudzianowski in a crucifix in the second round and rained down punches. Pudzianowski showed his inexperience in the MMA game, panicking instead of trying to work his way out, and he tapped out at 1:43 of the round.

"I'm back," said Sylvia. "But Mariusz Pudzianowski is one hell of a tough guy."

The DCU Center crowd was heavily rooting for Pudzianowski, who tried to ride the wave of momentum in the early moments of the fight. In the first, he managed to take Sylvia down, leading to a massive explosion from the audience, but he couldn't hold the position as Sylvia got back to his feet in short order.

Sylvia took control from that point on, peppering Pudzianowski with jabs and straight rights as well as doing damage with clinch work. Sylvia looked to be on the verge of stopping the Polish powerhouse at the end of the first round but was foiled by the horn.

Pudzianowski, though, was essentially done. Breathing heavily from the mouth, the MMA neophyte struggled to hold off Sylvia's offense any longer, and he was eventually ragdolled to the ground. Sylvia showed his experience, immediately passing to side control and putting his opponent in the crucifix position before raining down strikes. Pudzianowski ate four or five right hands before he decided he had enough and tapped out.

"Conditioning was the main reason [I tapped]," Pudzianowski said afterward through his interpreter. "I knew I could prolong the fight a little bit longer. But because of conditioning, or lack of it, there was no sense to do it. Conditioning was by far the deciding factor for me in continuing to go on."

Sylvia credited his opponent for his toughness and said it was merely a matter of inexperience.

"It's a learning curve," he said.

The raucous crowd made helped make the show feel like a major event. A heavy Polish population came out to support Pudzianowski, who is a national hero for his strongman titles. In fact, Sylvia said he was surprised at the fan split.

"It was a bit of a hostile crowd to be honest," he said. "I consider myself to be somewhat of a legend in MMA. I heard Mariusz's entrance and the crowd was going crazy. When I came out they were still cheering, it had to be 40-60, with 60 percent for him. I saw Polish guys screaming at me and yelling his name. Fotunately the fight went my way and I was able to switch it back over."

Sylvia improved to 26-6 with the win while it was the first pro loss for Pudzianowski, who has only been training MMA for a few months, and dropped to 2-1.

In the night's co-main event, Travis Wiuff made quick work of Josh Barnes, needing just 34 seconds to score a first-round TKO.

Wiuff wobbled Barnes with a left hook, then caught him again with a right behind the ear that put Barnes down. A few ground strikes later and it was all over.

In a women's featured bout, Roxanne Modafferi handed Tara LaRosa her first loss since 2003, escaping with a split decision victory in a close fight.

Modafferi (15-5) avenged an earlier loss in her career and snapped LaRosa's 15-fight win streak in the process. The fight was the most significant of any on the card as far as rankings go, and the result was a small upset as many considered LaRosa to be among the top five pound-for-pound female fighters.

"I was really happy with the fight," she said. "I was able to think clearly and strategically with the striking game. I consider myself a ground fighter. Now I can say that I can hang with the best of them. I don't want people to just think, 'I'm good for a girl.' I want people to think I'm a good fighter."

In another close and exciting fight, Mike Campbell earned the judges' decision over former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Yves Edwards.

It was a back-and-forth battle as both men had their moments in the contest.

Edwards took the loss in stride.

"When you're in there, it's kind of hard to tell [who's winning]," Edwards said. "When you fight a tough guy in his hometown and he makes a fight out of it, it's one of those things you cant complain. I expected a lot from Mike, I got all I expected. He's a lot stronger than you think he is. When it goes to the judges, you just accept it and move on."

"Honestly I was scared as hell," Campbell said. "Yves is a legend of the sport. I was honored to fight him. The fight was very close. Like Yves said, who knows what happens when you leave it to the judges in any way. I was unsure as he was when we were standing there waiting for the decision. It could've gone either way. Do you give it to the hometown kid or the veteran? It was a close fight."

In another upset, Rafael Natal beat former UFC No. 1 middleweight contender Travis Lutter in a first-round TKO.

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