Thursday, July 17, 2008

Affliction: Banned – Tim Sylvia vs. Fedor Emelianenko Preview

The main event of the Affliction features two of the of the top MMA heavyweight fighters in the world. Miletich Fighting Systems fighter Tim Sylvia is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and Fedor Emelianenko is the former Pride FC Heavyweight Champion. Tim Sylvia is coming off a loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship in February. Emelianenko recently defeated 7’2” Korean fighter Hong Man Choi at Yarrenoka in December of last year. The two heavyweights will be fighting to determine the WAMMA Heavyweight Championship of the world. Styles make fights and these two fighters couldn’t more different from each other from their fighting styles, to backgrounds, to size and reach differences.

Tim “Maine-iac” Sylvia

Tim Sylvia stands at 6’8” tall and sports a (26-5) MMA record that dates back to July of 1999. He is the #5 ranked heavyweight in the world according to WAMMA. He has one of the highest knockout percentages of any elite level heavyweight MMA fighter at 65% with 17 of his 26 wins coming in the form of TKO/KO. He is only second to Randy Couture for UFC Heavyweight Championship wins at five. He holds wins over Brandon Vera, Jeff Monson, and Ben Rothwell. His knockout power has been demonstrated with brutal knockouts of Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59 and a highlight reel head kick to Tre Telligman at UFC.

After his knockout of Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59 in April of 2006 things began to change. Sylvia successfully defended his belt two times in a rematch against Andrei Arlovski in July and Jeff Monson in November of 2006 but he was content to grind out decision wins. Randy Couture took notice, came out of retirement and made Sylvia pay for doing just enough to win and reclaimed the title in March of 2007.

Sylvia who had regularly fought every three to four months, took seven months off, had back surgery and returned to face highly touted and undefeated Brandon Vera at UFC in October of 2007. Sylvia defeated Vera with a unanimous decision win. That same month Randy Couture would resign from the UFC and relinquish his title. With Arlovski being punished and the UFC Heavyweight Division in shambles, Slyvia earned a shot at the interim title against former Pride Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 this February. Sylvia controlled most of the fight but when Nogueira pulled guard in the third round and swept his opponent, Sylvia attempted to escape but was caught in a guillotine choke and forced to tap out. With Sylvia earning $100,000 in his loss and not a fan favorite the UFC decided to cut him from his contract.

Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko

Fedor Emelianenko is the #1 ranked heavyweight in the world according to WAMMA. He has won 25 straight fights dating back to December of 2000. His MMA record stands at (27-1) and his only loss came from an illegal elbow at a Rings tournament at the hands of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, a loss he was able to avenge in April of 2005. He’s won over half of his fights via submission with most being armbars. He still lives and trains in the city he was raised, Stary Oskol in Western Russia near Ukraine and is a member of the Red Devil Fight Team. Fedor specializes in Combat Sambo and won the Russian Sambo Championships in February of this year.

Emelianenko has defeated many notable fighters in his career including current UFC and former Pride FC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice. He also holds wins over three time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Semmy Schilt, Mirko Filipovic, Mark Hunt, former UFC Heavyweight Champions Kevin Randleman and Mark Coleman twice and Matt Lindland.

Emelianenko’s critics cite his opponents as a reason to discount his success. Most feel that Fedor hasn’t faced a credible heavyweight opponent since Mirko Filipovic in August of 2005. Regardless of his opponents Emelianenko shows a toughness that is unparalleled in the sport. He survived being supplexed on his head by Randleman only to come back and armbar the decorated wrestler. He will trade blows with K-1 fighters and will go to the ground with BJJ blackbelts.

Tim Sylvia has a great knockout ratio but we haven’t seen Big Tim’s knockout power since April of 2006 with Arlovski and I don’t believe we’ll see it on Saturday night. Tim will be so worried about being taken down that he’ll be more focused on sprawling and brawling than scoring the knockout. That leaves Tim Sylvia with two more ways to win the fight. The first and easiest way for Sylvia to win the fight is with a cut. Emelianenko has thin skin and is susceptible to being cut open. His only loss came from a cut due to an illegal elbow. In addition, Fedor was cut in his fight with Matt Lindland in BodogFight but was able to finish quickly. Fedor is used to fighting without elbows and it could hamper him and his record someday soon. The second way for Sylvia to win is use his long reach and keep Fedor at bay and grind out the decision like Sylvia was on track for before Nogueria pulled guard and tapped him.

Despite having fought other very large and tall opponents in his career, I feel that Fedor Emelianenko is going to have serious problems with Tim Sylvia’s long jabs and alright takedown defense. Fedor will resort to his swinging hooks and trade with Sylvia but will eventually look for the takedown where he can unload his signature ground and pound style. The thought of Fedor with elbows is incredible and it adds a new dimension onto his game and he may take a page out of Randy Couture’s playbook for this fight. Of Sylvia’s five losses, three have come via submission. Most recently he was guillotine choked by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Andrei Arlovski defeated him with an Achilles lock and finally, Frank Mir broke his arm. Despite the break, Sylvia wanted to continue the match which shows his toughness and will to win. Nine of Fedor’s fights have ended with an armbar or kimura and that’s my prediction for Saturday.

Prediction – Fedor Emelianenko – Armbar – Round 4

Affliction Banned
Honda Center
Anaheim, CA

Main Card:

Tim “Maine-iac” Sylvia vs. Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko

Ben “Northstar” Rothwell vs. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski

Josh “The Baby Faced Assassin” Barnett vs. Pedro “The Rock” Rizzo

Matt “The Law” Lindland vs. Fabio Negao

Mike Whitehead vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle vs. JJ Ambrose

Preliminary Card:

Aleksander “The Grim Reaper” Emelianenko vs. Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello

Antonio Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira vs. Edwin “Baby Face” Dewees

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort vs. Terry Martin

Ray Lizama vs. Justin Levins

Trenell “Savant” Young vs. Mark Hominick

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