It was the match that never should've taken place. Mariusz Pudzianowski avoided a serious injury, but it was clear from the opening seconds of his fight against Tim Sylvia, that he didn't belong in the cage.
Pudzianowski, a five-time World's Strongest Man winner, has the physique of a great heavyweight but none of the necessary fighting skills. Sylvia withstood Pudzianowski's 45-second gas tank and eventually got the Polish powerhouse to tap via strikes at the 1:43 mark of the second round in the main event of Moosin: God of Martial Arts in Worcester, Mass.
"I knew I had a lot of experience on him. He was strong," Sylvia told the Boston Herald. "I did bring in three different guys who were bigger than me and stronger than me. We had some good training sessions, so I felt very confident in this fight. It’d basically be like me entering a strongman competition against this man ... no chance in hell."
Sylvia (26-6) is a two-time UFC champion, who has run into tough times recently. He lost to Fedor Emelianenko, the world's No. 1 heavyweight, and was subsequently shocked by 48-year-old Ray Mercer.
That doesn't mean that a guy with two professional fights had any business being in the cage with Sylvia. Allowing this fight was an awful sign for the future of MMA in Massachusetts.
Pudzianowski (2-1) charged Sylvia in the opening minute, and scored a takedown just 36 seconds into the fight. Sylvia got up almost immediately, and the fighters clinched for 90 seconds. Tied up along the fence, Pudzianowski's muscles filled up with lactic acid and his entire body was purple in a matter of seconds. The adrenaline rush was too much for the strongman, as Sylvia, relying on his experience, waited for Pudzianowski's gas tank to hit empty.
"The conditioning was the main reason," Pudzianowski said. "I knew I could possibly prolong the fight for a little longer. But because of my conditioning I realized there was no sense to do it. The conditioning was the deciding factor for me in not continuing the fight."
Then he was target practice. Sylvia landed a bunch of solid punches and knees to the body before Pudzianowski hit the deck with a minute left in the first. He survived the round but was so drained in the second that he simply fell to his back with 4:00 left after getting nailed by a few strikes.
The broadcast team on the pay-per-view had an amusing take on the victory, yelling and screaming that Sylvia was back. Of course, they also called for a Pudzianowski upset at the start of the fight saying this was going to be his "Joe Namath" moment. Color voice Bas Rutten quickly shot down that nonsense and gave his partners a dose of reality.
Sylvia never went away. He has lost some of his drive the last few years, but there was no shot of him losing to a guy just trying to capitalize on the recent growth of MMA.
Sylvia wants to fight for Strikeforce or to get back into the UFC. The heavyweight limit in those promotions is 265 pounds, but Sylvia has come to the cage at 300-plus pounds for his last few fights. It's time for him to take his career seriously and get back into high-level fighting shape.
In defense of Massachusetts, the crowd filled with casual MMA fans including many Poles, seemed to enjoy the fight. In the future, let's hope the state is a little more careful when it matches up fighters.