||UFC® Heavyweight Title Match
UFC heavyweight champion Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia takes a lot of criticism from fans because he gets conservative inside the Octagon® on occasion. I feel Tim is one of the greatest fighters in his division and he has improved drastically since his first bout on pay per view. Yet people still give him little respect, which is, at least in part, a mistake.
But Randy “The Natural” Couture has never really felt the wrath of those who indirectly pay his salary (the fans)…until now. The nagging multitude of questions surrounding Sylvia/Couture all revolve around the word WHY? Why is Randy coming out of retirement after less than a year on the couch? Why does he think that he can move directly into a title fight, in the larger division, when the last time he was ‘up there’ he got smashed, not once, but twice (both Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett stopped Couture in 2002)? And why is Randy getting an automatic chance to dethrone Tim, instead of Cro Cop or Brandon Vera who have earned it with WINS in their recent bouts?
To me Randy Couture is an icon, the highest-ranking historic UFC champion. But he is also human. And in that humanity comes the frailty of temptation. Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock and Chuck Liddell all recently saw huge surges in their fight purses and it surely must have peeved “The Natural” more than a little, knowing they had beaten him in the ‘cash in’ department. The ultimate® downfall of this spiral is that earnings will always go up and fighters will eventually be forced not take the bait to return, usually by doctors or commissions who refuse to allow an aging fighter to risk their health for that one last big payday. History shows us that when fighters make comebacks based on greenbacks they always regret it (Muhammed Ali, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, etc.).
But is it only about money? What could possibly be the other motivation? Pressure from the promoters because they ran out of cash cow main events? Who knows?
Couture is pushing 44 years old and all the wishful thinking, George Foreman analogies/comparisons can just take a hike. I don’t want to see the guy (Couture) get hurt. And Tim Sylvia has the power to do just that.
Sylvia’s motivation? Big Tim is probably feeling a tiny bit slighted by the audacity that people would consider that Couture should be given an immediate shot at his belt after he suffered a knockout in his last fight almost a year ago. And of course The Natural, whether on his own or by “encouragement” from the promoters, has been critical of Tim’s recent extended staredowns/fights. Who could blame him?
Randy is not even ranked as a heavyweight and hasn’t been for years. And he was stopped in his last fight by Chuck (Liddell) at a lower weight division. So how does that qualify him to step directly into a title shot? Simple, he’s known to the public (a.k.a. “famous”) for his role on a “reality” TV show (The Ultimate Fighter).
Now imagine if the NFL, MLB, NBA, World Cup or Wimbledon selected competitors for their finals based on popularity first and current athletic achievement second. It wouldn’t be long before these events lost credibility and suffered a slump similar to what boxing is currently going through. Playing the “celebrity card” in sports does create quick surges in positive cash flow. But it also sets up scenarios to where people will ask questions down the road about the legitimacy of the sports title, supposedly representing the best in the world, and what path one follows to covet it.
But on the same token, forgetting HOW people “qualify” for title shots in big MMA shows, Tim is also probably pretty darn happy that he will get a payday for fighting Randy instead of, say Cro Cop or Antonio Silva. He has to know that a scrap with the aging American will be much easier than the latter mentioned international pair.
Randy is going to get knocked out plain and simple. Then what?