Fedor Emelianenko vs Tim Sylvia
Sportsbook.com Odds (Fedor -450 / Sylvia +300)
Post Match Results: Fedor wins in first round after 36 seconds using a rear naked choke!
Prediction: Look for a boxing match early in this fight, with Fedor taking it to the ground in Round 2 once Tim tires out and finishing it quickly via arm-bar.
The main event of the evening is also a historic matchup, as former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko faces off with former multiple-time UFC Champion Tim Sylvia. Fedor, widely considered the #1 Heavyweight in the world over the last few years, has come under some scrutiny lately for his failure to fight a Top 10 competitor. Now, all of those criticisms are being put to rest as “The Last Emperor attempts to validate his #1 ranking once and for all.
Emelianenko’s (27-1) dominance of the Heavyweight division is the stuff of legend. His record has been marred only once, by a fluke cut from an illegal elbow that was, for whatever reason, ruled a loss. In reality, Fedor has essentially manhandled his way through a who’s who list of heavyweight greats with not so much as a speed-bump along the way. After handily defeating K-1 World Grand Prix champion Semmy Schilt and perennial contender Heath Herring, Fedor utterly dominated current UFC champ Noguiera, smashing him with vicious ground and pound for twenty minutes. What followed was a reign of terror, in which Fedor tore apart every contender to his title. Wins over Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Mark Hunt, Cro Cop and a second, equally dominating win over Noguiera cemented Fedor’s spot at the top of the Heavyweight ladder.
PRIDE’s closing, though, halted Emelianenko’s momentum, and he fought only twice last year, defeating middleweight Matt Lindland and the untested Hong Man Choi, neither of which helped silence the critics saying Fedor was ducking top competition. Clearly, regardless of who he faced last year, Fedor Emelianenko is as skilled and accomplished a fighter as there is in the Heavyweight division, and Tim Sylvia is going to be faced with a tough task come July 19.
This will hardly be the first time, though, that Tim Sylvia (24-4) has gone into a huge fight as a decided underdog. At UFC 41, Tim was widely expected to lose to then-champion Ricco Rodriguez. Defying all expectations, Sylvia dominated Rodriguez, knocking him out in just three minutes. After being submitted in under a minute by Andrei Arlovski, Tim entered two different rematches, each time as the underdog, and emerged victorious both times.
What really makes this fight so interesting, aside from the implications for the Heavyweight division, is that each fighter’s strengths play off his opponent’s weaknesses. Fedor’s biggest weakness is his tendency to get cut. His “loss” to Kohsaka was because of a cut on his forehead, and his second fight with Noguiera had to be stopped after an accidental headbutt split his head wide open yet again. Tim Sylvia’s long reach, punching power, and solid take-down defense make him a perfect candidate to exploit this weakness. If he can use his reach to keep Fedor at a distance, he has a good chance of using his sharp jab to open up Fedor’s head and put him in serious danger.Sylvia’s weakness, obviously, is his ground game. Any long-time UFC fan will never forget Frank Mir snapping Tim’s arm like a wishbone. Arlovski almost submitted Tim easily, and it took Noguiera about 15 seconds on the ground to make him tap.
If any fighter is capable of exploiting this weakness, it is Fedor, who has arguably the most impressive slate of submission victories in the division’s history. He submitted Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman, both of whom are light years ahead of Sylvia on the ground, with almost comical ease. If he can manage so much as one take-down against Sylvia, Fedor will win this fight easily, as the only thing more devastating than his submission game is his ground and pound.
Basically, this fight will be decided by how well Fedor can close the distance and take the action to the ground. If Tim can keep the fight standing like he did against Noguiera, there is no way Fedor can survive the same kind of beating that Noguiera had to take in order to secure a submission. In the end, though, I think that Fedor’s striking, while not on the same level as Tim’s, will at least be good enough to create openings to tie Sylvia up in the clinch and secure the takedown.
Like Silva vs Irvin I will be placing a bet for Sylvia in hopes of an upset and a big return as he does have a punchers chance also.
Look for a boxing match early in this fight, with Fedor taking it to the ground in Round 2 once Tim tires out and finishing it quickly via arm-bar.