Reality bites for new champ

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

You'll have to forgive Tim Sylvia if he isn't doing backflips over the Ultimate Fighting Championship's new crop of made-for-TV stars.

The UFC heavyweight champ is the first to credit The Ultimate Fighter reality show with catapulting mixed-martial arts to a new level.

But he admits the meteoric rise of the young fighters has led to some resentment from the old guard.

"The show is what's made us grow -- but those guys are like triple A compared to what we are," the 6-ft., 8-in. Sylvia told the Sun.

"A lot of the main level guys like myself aren't too happy with the fact that we had to bust our (butts) to fight in the UFC and these guys get on UFC by being on a reality show."

Sylvia, who reclaimed his title by beating Belarus brawler Andrei Arlovski at last weekend's UFC 59, said one needs to look no further than the undercard of that fight to see the reality-TV-trained media darlings are no match for the veterans of the cage.

At the Anaheim event, the show's Season One winner took on UFC fixture and notorious big-mouth Tito Ortiz in a light-heavyweight match.

After a gruelling first-round clinic and a back-and-forth second and third, Ortiz knocked Griffin back to reality with a split decision win.

Sylvia points out Ortiz, a former world champ who earned his right to fight in the Octagon by climbing the ranks, was the first real test for instant celebrity Griffin. A test Griffin failed.

But despite any animosity that exists between the two schools of ultimate fighting, Sylvia is happy to cash in on the sport's new-found fame.

Last Saturday's event at the Arrowhead Pond -- the UFC's first in California -- was the fastest sellout in the company's history and the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 drew 2.4 million viewers on Spike TV.

With swelling popularity and purses, Sylvia -- who expects a rematch with Arlovski as early as June -- prides himself on not spending like a rock star. His only indulgences thus far: Two ATVs and a few new-release movies every Tuesday.


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