In Kevin Iole’s latest piece on Yahoo! Sports, he interviews Fedor Emelianenko, a man that many feel is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Fedor says himself that he doesn’t think he’s the best and is hesitant to name a fighter that he believes is the best. But the real gem of the article is a comment from Dana White regarding Fedor, his status, and his demolition of Tim Sylvia a few weeks back:
“He’s not the best pound-for-pound fighter, not even close, but he’s one of the four or five best heavyweights,” said White, who undoubtedly would be singing Emelianenko’s praises to the heavens the moment he got the stoic Russian’s name on a UFC contract.
“But we all have to thank him for getting rid of Tim Sylvia. He’d been stinking out the joint the last couple of years and Fedor did everyone a favor by beating him so easily and getting rid of him.”
Y’know, Dana’s right. As good a fighter as Sylvia is, ever since he won the UFC heavyweight title he became an extremely tentative fighter. On his way up the heavyweight ladder, Sylvia put together a highlight reel of knockouts and earned a reputation for being aggressive and finishing fights on the feet. However, once the strap went around his waist, he was content to ride out decisions and play it safe in order to keep his status as champion. Even after he lost the title to Randy Couture, his first fight back against Brandon Vera was a snoozefest. Why? Because it was for a title shot.
Listen, I have a lot of respect for Sylvia. He’s a guy who is not athletically gifted and has made his own success from the bottom up in MMA. But nothing is worse to Dana White than a fighter who fights not to lose. To lose in exciting fashion in the UFC is better than to win in boring fashion. Sylvia has gone on record as saying that he would like to come back to the UFC someday but when your former boss thrashes you in public like that, it’s hard to believe that you’ll ever be welcome back.