Sylvia to play spoil sport

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 2:32 PM ET

Every plot needs a villain.

And if UFC heavyweight champ Tim (The Maine-iac) Sylvia has his way, he'll be playing spoiler to Hall-of-Famer Randy (The Natural) Couture's storybook comeback.

"I give Randy as much respect as I give anyone, maybe a little more," said Sylvia. "Randy's a stud. He's been around a long time and he's done a lot of things but I'm going in there as well prepared as I can be and I'm looking to knock him out."

Couture, arguably the most popular fighter in UFC history, retired following his second straight defeat at the fists of light-heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell last February.

The 43-year-old, who is the only man to have held belts in both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight divisions, became a cage-side fixture at UFC events often adding colour commentary to pay-per-views as well as analysis for The Fight Network.

But the itch to return to the cage was unbearable for the chiselled grappler and he has set his sights on Sylvia.

Couture has criticized the Maine giant's last two performances, saying Sylvia looked as though he was fighting to not lose, rather than fighting to win.

"I don't think that's true," says the 6-ft. 8-in. Sylvia. "I go out there with a game plan and I follow the game plan to a T.

"Jeff Monson was scared to engage, Andrei Arlovski was scared to engage. You can't chase a guy around the ring the whole time. I can't do anything if guys don't want to fight."

Sylvia points out Couture hasn't exactly mopped the mat with his opponents' blood in his last two heavyweight outings.

"He doesn't do well against heavy strikers, he's been knocked out in his last two fights against Chuck," Sylvia said. "Now he's going against a huge heavyweight and a big striker."

Couture and Sylvia headline UFC 68: The Uprising in Columbus, Ohio, March 3.

FIGHT NOTES:

- UFC 68 will have a Miletich Camp versus the world flavour. Miletich Fighting Systems members Tim Sylvia, Matt Hughes and MFS associate Rich Franklin are all on the card. The card hasn't been finalized but Franklin will take on Canada's Jason MacDonald while Hughes is rumoured to go up against Chris Lytle.

- World Extreme Cagefighting kicks off tonight in Vegas with Canadian John Alessio taking on welterweight Brian Gassaway in an undercard fight. The main event will feature Kit Cope against Rob McCullough for the WEC lightweight crown.


Videos

Photos