Tim Sylvia's humiliating loss to Ray Mercer is mostly being discussed in terms of its meaning for Tim's seriously damaged career as a fighter. Not only does this loss brutally damage Sylvia's brand as a top MMA fighter, but in the immediate brass tacks sense, it will probably deprive him of a very nice payday at Affliction Trilogy. The next (and probably final) Affliction show. That's because the California State Athletic Commission will likely not license Sylvia to fight so soon after a brutal KO loss and rightfully so.
It's sad what has happened to Tim Sylvia's career and reputation, but the point that should be discussed is the absolutely awful career management Tim has been getting from Monte Cox.
Monte Cox has a massive conflict of interest as the promoter behind Adrenaline MMA and the manager of several fighters, including Tim Sylvia. Clearly in this case he did not put Tim's interests before his own as the promoter.
If I can quote myself from a few months back when the Sylvia-Mercer fight was announced:
This is pathetic on so many levels. Poor Tim Sylvia, Monte Cox has really painted him into a corner. First he convinced Tim to ask to be released from the UFC where he had had two title runs. Then he was going to headline Adrenaline shows that didn't happen. Then he got paid $800,000 to get demolished by Fedor....
Well, Monte hasn't been all bad to Tim, but let's face facts, when you make $800,000 to get destroyed in 0:36, you've basically taken a big one time cash payment in lieu of a future in MMA.
With his anti-charismatic persona and his long string of cautious, tentative and tedious performances as UFC champ, has to be the formidable athlete with the least brand equity of anyone in MMA.
I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that Sam Caplan was completely correct when he said:
Despite Mercer’s MMA inexperience, he still poses a unique threat to Sylvia. While the heavy-handed Slice felt it was prudent to take Mercer off his feet, Sylvia is not known for taking fights to the ground and instead may attempt to trade punches with a professional boxer that was good enough to win a Gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.
At the time I jumped all over Sam, but time will tell and its clear that Sam had a very good point about Ray Mercer and the threat he presented to Tim Sylvia.
However, as long as we're reviving old quotes, let's look at what Big Tim was saying when he quit the UFC to sign with Adrenaline:
"I'll be real active, fighting six or seven times a year," Sylvia said. "Adrenaline is a new company that's just starting up, but they're allowing fighters to fight outside of their organization. That's huge... Take for instance my last fight. Granted, I loss, but I came out of there unhurt and unscathed. I could have fought a week or two later.
"Being 32 years old, I have four or five good years ahead of me. I plan to make the most of it."
And here's what Cox had to say about his plans for Adrenaline:
"It's a chance for me to build an organization," Cox said. "We're not going to come in and be the UFC. Anyone who tries to do that is crazy.
"We're brand new. What we want to do is I want to identify exciting fighters, up-and-coming fighters, and give them a chance to perform on a big stage. And hopefully, we'll gather a big following and someday down the road be doing pay-per-views and such."
But a look at the roster of Adrenaline fighters so far shows a lot more Monte Cox affiliated fighters on the tail end of their careers than up and comers. There is also no indication that the promotion is building a following.
Monte still manages a lot of fighters at the top of the sport including Rich Franklin
and Matt Hughes. He also manages up and coming star Eddie Alvarez whose career he has so far guided very well. Although I do worry about the decision to sign with Bellator which seems like a high-risk, low reward option for Alvarez.
It should also be noted that Cox is a veteran of the sport and has done a great deal to build MMA as a promoter and manager. All respect to Mr. Cox for what he has accomplished. But let's call a spade a spade and recognize that Tim Sylvia's career nosedive didn't just happen in the ring and the cage, it happened backstage too.
UPDATE: Zach Arnold opines:
We know what kind of damage this will do for Sylvia’s fighting career. What I am more interested in is seeing how much damage Monte Cox has suffered to his reputation for a) the way he’s managed Tim Sylvia in my opinion and b) putting Sylvia in this kind of position against someone like Mercer, who was having to box in Sweden for the last couple of years. My take is that Cox should not go away from this ordeal unscathed. This whole ordeal is a huge stain on him professionally. Everyone will rightfully rip on Tim, but Monte Cox is the one who deserves the biggest spotlight of public shame here.
Alan Conceicao chimes in with a counter position:
I actually disagree, Zach. Monte did a hell of a job getting Sylvia his payday for the Fedor fight. I mean, really, the guy made more in guaranteed money that night than he had in his previous 8 fights combined in the UFC or something crazy like that. The problem is that Sylvia took the stance afterwards that he was a big money fighter and demanding premier matchups instead of recognizing his placement in the sport and rebuilding. He could have gone to Japan or fought on independent shows like a lot of guys had. Hell, I bet he could have gotten on M-1 Challenge with little effort and picked up some easy Ws. Instead, ego got a hold of him and told him that he could be a world class boxer. He looked at the Klitschkos selling out soccer stadiums and thought he should be doing the same. And that’s what put him in this position. Ultimately though, Cox should have done a better job either talking him out of it or refusing to promote the fight and cut his losses with Timmy. No one is blameless. Hell, Ray Mercer is only here because he didn’t take his boxing career seriously enough when he was in his prime and spent all his money. Maybe if Merciless Ray Mercer had spent more time in the gym and less time audibly trying to throw a fight on camera (Jesse Ferguson), none of this would have happened.