Tim Sylvia is the former five-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, a disciple of the highly respected Miletich Fighting System, and one of the most maligned champions in UFC history. Tim briefly discusses his personal history, his upcoming fight with Brandon Vera, and why he feels he is so misperceived.
Q: You’re a big guy at 6-foot-8 and 255 pounds. Were you a bully growing up?
A: No, I didn’t grow until my senior year of high school. I was bullied all through grammar and high school, getting picked on, beat on, you know – pushed up against lockers; people picked on me all the time. My senior year, I grew four inches over the summer and became 6-foot-4 and then grew a couple more inches throughout the school year. I started going out and looking for all these bullies, and they were very apologetic and very nice to me after I grew.
Q: One UFC official said the broken arm you suffered at the hands of Frank Mir at UFC 48 (June 2004) was one of the worst he’s ever seen – what do you remember about that night?
A: I was just caught in an armbar, I pulled my arm out and thought I was safe and (then) I felt it break three times. So I picked him up and tried to spike (my opponent) on his head. I got one slam off and then on the second one I picked him up and the referee stopped it.
Q: You, like many UFC stars, have a MySpace page (www.myspace.com/timsylvia). What’s the craziest thing a fan ever said to you via an e-mail to your page?
A Ahh, the list goes on and on. I have people wanting to fight me all the time. I usually just send them out a message saying ‘Hey, my gym’s located out on Sixteenth Street in Bettendorf, Iowa.’ We’ve got an open door policy – anybody that wants to show up at my gym is more than welcome to – then I block ’em and make sure they can’t contact me back.
If they ever show one day, we’ve got a waiver form for them to sign and they can come on in the ring and train with me.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
A: A lot of people just think I’m an a—hole or I’m mean because I’m 6-foot-8, 255 pounds, you know? When they first look at me, they think I’m scary, and then they get to know me and they say I’m a nice guy, I’m a gentle giant. I give off a persona of being a badass. I think it’s because I’m a five-time UFC champ.
Outside the cage, I’m a nice guy. I just love to be out in the outdoors. I’m a huge hunter; I have a hunting business, (too).
Q: Any last words for your opponent or the people here in Cincinnati?
A: I have no words for my opponent – he knows what I’m going to do to him. Obviously, Cincinnati is kind of a hometown for me; Cincinnati is in the Midwest and I’m in the Midwest and I’ve been to Cincinnati half a dozen times to train with Rich Franklin, (who’s) one of my best friends.
I just feel like there’s a home team advantage for me and for Rich and a couple other guys fighting, and I’m happy to be fighting in the Midwest and glad to have Cincinnati supporting me and the rest of my boys.
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