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Tim Sylvia vs. Brandon Vera -
Will Tim Tell Us 'The Truth'?

By Robert Rousseau,
Tim Sylvia is a very good fighter. In fact, he may even be better than that as his 23-2 overall MMA record would seem to attest to. Unfortunately, his last two fights have left something to be desired. Not from a technical or skills standpoint; in that regard he's been fine.

We're talking from an excitement standpoint, here.

In Sylvia's most recent battle against Andrei Arlovski, he was the clear winner. However, with the exception of one or two solid punches, the fight was quite uneventful. Boring even. Against Jeff Monson on 11/18/06 ( his second defense since winning the title from Arlovski on 4/15/06 ) he was once again the clear victor. Though this fight did offer some drama on the ground, in the end, the fans judged Sylvia's performance.

Quite harshly, in fact.

In short, Sylvia had to endure an endless chorus of boos as he spoke to commentator and former champion, Randy "The Natural" Couture, about the contest. Then when the conversation and booing finally seemed to be over, the UFC Heavyweight Champion requested the mic one more time.

"Looks as though Brandon Vera is in my way," he said. "So Brandon, I hope you bring it. I'm gonna knock your ass out."

Brandon "The Truth" Vera vs. Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia - now there's an interesting idea.

Who is Brandon Vera?

Brandon "The Truth" Vera is an undefeated mixed martial artist with an 8-0 overall MMA record. Cutting to the chase, Vera has gone through UFC opponents like Fabiano Scherner ( TKO ), Justin Eilers ( KO ), Assuerio Silva ( guillotine choke ), and Frank Mir ( TKO ) as if they weren't even there.

Certainly those victories have helped his confidence, but in reality it appears that he's never been lacking in self esteem. After all, it took a whopping minute or two after his first UFC victory to call out the organization's most popular champion, Chuck Liddell. In fact, he seems to have his sights set on two UFC titles - both heavyweight and light heavyweight.

Perhaps setting the bar a tad too high. Or maybe not.

Vera has a strong jiu-jitsu and submission pedigree, as he trains with one of the sport's greats in Lloyd Irvin. Further, his training with Dutch kickboxer Rob Kaman has brought his striking to a very high level ( as his eight (T)KO's will attest to ). Along with this, in recent bouts he has demonstrated the ability to deliver devastating low kicks and punching combinations. Further, he's quite athletic.

In other words, with the exception of his size ( Vera is only 225 pounds, relatively small for a heavyweight ) it is truly hard to find any weaknesses in his game.

So what about UFC Heavyweight Champion, Tim Sylvia?

First thing's first. Tim Sylvia is HUGE! Along with this, he's listed at 6'8 and tips the scales at 260 pounds. On top of his sheer size is the fact that he trains with one of the best teams in the business, Miletich Fighting Systems.

In other words, he works with fighters like Matt Hughes, Pat Miletich, and Jeremy Horn regularly. The best of the best.

Sylvia has excellent technical striking skills. His hands always seem to be in the right place; his plan always seems formidable. In addition, he's got underrated takedown skills ( remember the way he took down Frank Mir in their first encounter? ) as well as more than solid takedown defense.

Tim Sylvia also hits very hard and demonstrates excellent cardio.

In terms of submission skills, what might have once been labeled as a significant weakness seems to have improved substantially. In fact, an argument can be made that Sylvia actually outdid Monson on the ground in their recent encounter ( a former Abu Dhabi champion ). After all, the champion was able to escape multiple guillotine chokes in the match and nearly sank in a triangle of his own ( as well as a north-south choke ). After his win against "The Snowman," Sylvia seemed to say it best.

"My cornermen just told me that I just went the distance ( with and ) out jiu-jitsu'd the best jiu-jitsu guy in the heavyweight division."

So then we come to the champ's main weakness - his athleticism. The man from Maine is not very explosive, nor quick. In fact, he looks rather plodding, which is likely why so many people wrongfully question his martial arts skills. Another weakness could be his intense yearning to keep the belt. You would think that would be a good thing, but word is that there isn't anyone in the game that needs the belt as much as he ( some say he actually sleeps with it ).

This leads one to wonder if the reason for the slow pace of his last two fights is tied to this. Perhaps the belt is too important to Sylvia, to the point that since he regained it he's fighting not to lose rather than to win.

There may be some truth to that; of course, it may also be as false as an 80 year old's teeth. Regardless, a match against Vera is exactly what the doctor ordered for a guy like Tim Sylvia.

Why a Match Up Between Brandon Vera and Tim Sylvia Would be Exciting

Simply put, Vera would force the action. He's a free spirit in the ring and that will almost certainly translate to more action than in Sylvia's two most recent defenses. Yes, Arlovski is a free spirit of sorts as well, but once he tasted Sylvia's power in their second fight, he was much more cautious in the third.

Luckily, Vera hasn't felt Sylvia's power yet. Thus, he'll be the same confident fighter we've been seeing all along.

In addition, Vera is solid in all areas of fighting. Along with this, he's likely willing to explore things on his feet. In other words, Sylvia won't have to be on his heels worrying about the takedown like he was against Monson.

Last, people who truly understand the game know how good Brandon Vera really is. Though he is a little small for the division, his talent cannot be denied. If Sylvia were to beat him, it would mean something in the eyes of MMA fans everywhere. It might start to bring the big man some of the credibility that has eluded him.

But most important, the fight would serve to bring excitement to the UFC Heavyweight Division. That's why the organization should make it happen, pronto.

How a fight between Tim Sylvia and Brandon Vera might breakdown.

No predictions here in terms of the outcome. However, here's the thing. Both fighters are excellent technically in all aspects.

Therefore, the real difference between these two is rather easy to point out.

Sylvia is the bigger, more powerful man. Further, he has a lot more experience in big fights and is a proven five round fighter. Vera, on the other hand, is the more athletic fighter. He is untested on the championship front, but that doesn't mean he can't come through on the biggest of stages; it just means that he hasn't yet.

So come on, Dana White. Let's make this one happen. Guess is it would be a good one.

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