Two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia picks the defining moments of his career.
1. Mike Whitehead – Superbrawl 24
I fought once on Friday and three times on Saturday – and knocked everybody out. The Friday, I had a pretty quick night and didn’t get too banged up, so I could go into the next day 100% healthy. I TKO’d Mike on Friday night, and back in the day, if you got TKO’d, did you have to have a three-month suspension? Nope! He fought the next night, came in as an alternate and beat up Ben Rothwell to fight me in the finals. My feet were so torn up from sprawling and brawling on that mat – I mean, they were raw – so I put wrestling shoes on knowing I couldn’t kick. I knew I had a great chance if I could stuff his takedown and I think on his third failed attempt, I was able to get a good Thai clinch and deliver some knees which finished him.
2. Wesley Correira – UFC 39: The Warriors Return
I think my first fight in the UFC was an amazing showing against ‘Cabbage’. It was so good, the UFC offered me a title shot and that’s something you really don’t see after your first fight. It was a fun fight and a good showing.
3. Ricco Rodriguez – UFC 41: Onslaught
I went into the Ricco fight with nothing to lose; I really didn’t care. If we lost, I was going to lose to Ricco Rodriguez, the world champion. If we won, we just became world champ after one fight in the UFC. I never really got a chance to enjoy my UFC experience as most fighters do. It was an amazing fight and a good performance, but I sometimes overlook it because I didn’t feel like I earned it like I did the second time. I was thrown in as a gimme for Ricco, who hand-picked me as the weakest opponent. He thought he’d be able to beat me easily – but you all saw what happened…
4. Andrei Arlovski 2 – UFC 59: Reality Check
We fought three times, but winning the title the second time meant more to me because I really had to earn my position back to get a world title shot. I’d come off two losses – the broken arm against Frank Mir, then Arlovski tapped me out. I had a great knockout of Tra Telligman and then I fought Assuerio Silva when I was as sick as a dog to get the title shot. When Arlovski hit me with a right and dropped me, it was a flash. I fell down and clearly said in my mind, ‘Oh no, this is not going to happen again!’ Instead of laying on my back and waiting for him to jump into my guard like I did the first time – he just jumped on a heel – I said, ‘I’m just going to get back up. I’ll take a couple of punches if I try, but I’m getting back up.
5. Randy Couture – UFC 68: Uprising
Randy’s one of my best friends, and one of my idols. He took it as a fight and I took it as a sparring match. We’d trained together on numerous occasions. He flew me up to Oregon to help him get ready for fights, so he was one of my really close friends in the fight game, and I just couldn’t flick the switch and go out there with that killer mentality. Obviously, he could and he won. I remember going into the fifth round and my corner was screaming at me, ‘You have to knock him out!’ I thought it was only the second, but they said it was the fifth and I was like, ‘Oh, s**t!’