Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sylvia Heavily Favored in Couture’s Return

The mixed martial arts world will be focused on the return of Randy Couture this Saturday. But his opponent thinks people may be focusing on the wrong guy.

Reigning heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia says he welcomes Couture’s return to the ring.

Come and get me, says the six-foot-eight, 255-pound man-mountain.

And while Couture may be a sentimental favorite, he’s not the betting favorite, according to betED. The online wagering site has Sylvia favored at -350, while Couture is +200.

The 43-year-old Couture, a Hall of Famer coming out of retirement after a year out of the mixed martial arts game, has owned both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight titles in the past and is considered an icon in the sport.

So does Sylvia want to test himself against the best?

"Well, one of the best," Sylvia corrects the questioner. "I wouldn't say the best. I consider myself THE best."

Sylvia and Couture face off March 3 at UFC 68: The Uprising in Columbus, Ohio. It's widely expected that Mirko Filipovic will take on the winner, once he disposes of Gabriel Gonzaga.

Couture could have his hands full against Sylvia, who is 13 years younger – and much bigger.

"If I have to look at it objectively, I don't see how Randy Couture is going to win," says UFC commentator Joe Rogan. "I see a young, hungry, gigantic man who has vicious knockout power and he's fighting a guy who's in his 40s, who has always had a problem with big men. And this is the biggest man he's ever fought. And the most dangerous.

"Tim Sylvia is a very under-rated man. He just doesn't look that dangerous, because he's got a body that looks like the average person's body. He doesn't have this muscular shredded six-pack body. . . . He doesn't look like this dynamic powerhouse alpha male champion. But he is. I think people get confused.

"That guy's a very dangerous fighter. He wants to win and he's willing to put in the work to win. He's constantly improving. He's a scary guy."

And this coming from an unabashed Couture admirer.


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