“The Snowman” vs. “The Maine-iac” for Heavyweight Gold
by Brady Crytzer
In the main co-feature of UFC 65, the heavy hitters return to California as UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia faces the submission grappling champion Jeff “The Snowman” Monson in a match-up that defines the sport of MMA.
UFC Heavyweight Championship: Jeff “The Snowman” Monson vs. Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia
Monson: In a divided nation of red states, blue states, republicans and democrats, it is hard to find a middle ground. Normally, the warriors of UFC offer themselves as a means of distractions from the tumultuous political battleground, but it is sure to rear its ugly head. Conservative? UFC world welterweight champion Matt Hughes is your man. Liberal? Give UFC light heavyweight contender Tito Ortiz a try. But for those fans who crave something a bit more extreme, Jeff Monson is your antihero.
If the symbolic representation of Anarchy found tattooed on “The Snowman’s” back isn’t enough for you, just take a look at the world submission grappling champion. A major player in the heavyweight division, Monson stands but 5’9 but weighs a brutish 240 pounds. He has used his powderkeg-like frame to dominate the submission wrestling world and to even win a few pro boxing matches. In his MMA career, Monson has gone the distance with fighters the likes of Forrest Griffin and “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell. More recently in his UFC career, “The Snowman” has rattled off three straight over Brandon Lee Hinkle, long-time submission rival Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz and Anthony Perosh. Can Monson make as big of a splash in the UFC as he has in the submission world? Only UFC 65 will tell the tale.
Sylvia: 6’8 270 lb. Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia is known to have one of the most “up and down” careers in MMA. In his debut at UFC 39, Sylvia wowed made an impressive debut when he blasted bomb after bomb to the face of Hawaiian Wesley “Cabbage” Correira, forcing his corner to stop the fight. In his next appearance in the Octagon, the giant Sylvia shocked the world with his upset first round knockout victory over champion Ricco Rodriguez, giving him his first world title.
From there, the roller coaster ride began. At UFC 44, in a match dubbed “The Battle of the Giants,” the 6’8 Sylvia defended his title for the first time against a 6’10 Gan “The Giant” McGee. As predicted, the battle was a heavyweight slugfest with Sylvia KO’ing his larger opponent just minutes into the fight. In the days after the event, the MMA world stopped spinning when word that the UFC heavyweight champion had tested positive for a banned substance was made public. In a show of class and humility, a crestfallen Sylvia openly confessed and appeared to be genuinely remorseful; but, nonetheless, was stripped of his title. When the smoke had cleared, Sylvia’s next scheduled against Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski was cancelled just days before UFC 47 when, once again, “The Maine-iac” tested positive due to reserves of the substance stored in his body fat. At UFC 48, after all the tests came back clean, Sylvia battled Las Vegan Frank Mir in another shot at UFC gold. Mir, a jiu jitsu specialist, quickly took the fight to the ground and applied a fight-ending armbar, breaking the arm of Sylvia in nearly four places. After months of rehab, tune-up fights and positive support from his team, Sylvia returned at UFC 51 to finally meet Andrei Arlovski for the heavyweight title. Tim Sylvia was quickly blasted with a hard right hand that had him floored and submitted with a wrenching ankle lock. Once more, Sylvia had met reality head on.
But, with vengeance (and more importantly a rematch) on his mind, “The Maine-iac” blasted his next two opponents. After brutally knocking out Lion’s Den fighter Tra “Trauma” Telligman with a well-placed head kick in August, Sylvia continued his run by soundly outpointing Assuerio Silva in January. In what was considered a last chance rematch, Sylvia shocked the MMA world by knocking out then-king Arlovski at UFC 59 and then scoring a decision victory in an immediate rematch at UFC 61, just three months later.
Sylvia has not been quiet about letting media and opponents alike know just how important his world title is to him. Think you can dethrone “The Maine-iac?” Step right up.
How They Match Up: As a main event, this fight lacks the bells and whistle to bring in big pay per view numbers, but isn’t that always the case when two fighters that really mean business meet for a legitimate title showdown?
Make no mistake about it—this will be a meaningful bout and a big time test for “The Maine-iac.” When looking at the experience of Monson, it is hard not to give him a chance in this fight. He is constantly grappling and due to the lack of long-term damage to his body has been able to roll dozens of times a year. But this isn’t going to be submission wrestling and he will have to bring his best ever to win this fight. Though Monson has proven he has heavy hands, his nearly twelve-inch height disadvantage means that he will have to play the “reach game.” Unfortunately for him, the man he is playing with is Sylvia.
Love him or hate him, you cannot take anything away from him. One would be hard pressed to find a champion that truly loves his title more than Sylvia. Think that’s far-fetched? How many fighters come to mind that would let their arm literally snap in three places rather than submit and still want to fight on despite the injury?
Look to Sylvia to keep that distance as long as possible and fire straight punches down the pipe to his much, much shorter opponent. Monson will need to close the distance and get the big man to the floor. It’s has been a near impossible task for the majority of Sylvia’s opponents. But, then again, who knows what a little Anarchy will bring to the game.