Eastbrook native Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia, an Ellsworth High School product who went on to become a two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight world title holder, has announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, according to multiple reports.
The 40-year-old Sylvia, who has lived and trained for many years in Davenport, Iowa, was scheduled to fight last Saturday night on the Reality Fighting 53 card at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, but he did not receive medical clearance.
Because of his age, Sylvia was subject to additional prefight medical screening before the scheduled super heavyweight bout against Juliano Coutinho. Sylvia indicated on his Twitter account that some irregularities arose on a last-minute MRI exam, which resulted in him being denied a license to fight and ultimately sending him into retirement.
“There were some things on the MRI that weren’t on another MRI we had on file from 2003, meaning something happened over the course of the last 11 years,” Sylvia’s manager, Monte Cox, told ESPN.com. “A neurologist said it could be something or it could be nothing.
“I think it’s the end. He had gotten to a point where his body, through all the wars, just wasn’t able to get in the kind of shape he used to. Obviously, you could see that in his weight. He just can’t get into competitive form. I think [retirement] is good. With this MRI, why go on, when you’re only getting paid a fraction of what you’re worth?”
The 6-foot-8 Sylvia finished his career with a 31-10-1 professional record.
“To tell you the truth, I’m getting old, man,” Sylvia said on this week’s “The MMA Hour” podcast.
Sylvia said during a 2012 Bangor Daily News interview that he took up mixed martial arts on a whim 15 years earlier.
“I fell into it to be honest with you,” he said. “I was working in construction and [former Bangor-based mixed martial arts fighter] Marcus Davis and I were bouncing at the Bounty Taverne and we saw an announcement about fights in Rhode Island if you dared show up, so I showed up and paid 50 bucks and knocked someone out in 17 seconds. I thought to myself, ‘I’m hooked.’
“I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “I’d seen it on TV, and I was scared as hell, but I went in there and it worked out.”
Sylvia made his professional debut in 2001 and won his first 13 fights before signing with the top-tier UFC in 2002.
He quickly rose to the top, winning his first world title a year later by defeating Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 41 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Sylvia made a successful title defense that year but voluntarily vacated his title in the aftermath of that first-round victory over Gan McGee at UFC 44 when he tested positive for a banned substance.
Sylvia served a six-month suspension before resuming his career, then he regained the UFC heavyweight championship with a first-round technical knockout of Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59 in April 2006.
Sylvia made two successful title defenses before dropping a unanimous decision to mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture at UFC 68 in Anaheim, California, in March 2007.
Sylvia asked for and was granted his release from the UFC a year later with one fight left on his contract to sign with a rival and now-defunct organization, Affliction. That deal eventually fell through, and after a nine-second knockout loss to boxer Ray Mercer in 2009 and a brief flirtation with professional wrestling Sylvia turned his attention back to mixed martial arts, competing for a variety of regional promotions around the world.
That included a return to his home state on June 26, 2012, when he scored a 12-second technical knockout of Randy “The Wolf” Smith in the main event of a New England Fights card in Lewiston.
The win was the seventh in eight bouts for Sylvia, but it turned out to be his last victory.
First came a “no contest” in his fourth career bout against Arlovski, followed by three straight defeats, the most recent a unanimous decision loss to Ruslan Magomedov on Oct. 26, 2013, in Moscow, Russia.
Sylvia was scheduled for a return to Maine last September to fight fellow UFC veteran Christian Morecraft at NEF XIV in Lewiston, but injuries to both fighters scrapped that contest.