Missed opportunities and miscalculations can produce some serious backpedaling:
"Dana's had some hard things to say about me, but I've never had anything bad to say about him," he said.
Sylvia said that not only is the UFC the best organization when it comes to money and big fights (though he earned a staggering disclosed base pay of $800,000 in the loss to Emelianenko), but he already had a few opponents in mind.
"When it comes to business, the best thing for Tim Sylvia right now is to be back in the UFC," Sylvia said. "They're the biggest organization. They have the most money, the best fights."
"There'd be some great fights if I was back in the UFC. Me against Frank (Mir), me against (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira, me against Randy (Couture). Those three right there. The two guys I lost to (Nogueira and Couture) that were all great fights the first time.
Let's remind ourselves for a moment what White actually said about Sylvia since The Maine-iac departed the UFC:
"He’s not the best pound-for-pound fighter, not even close, but he’s one of the four or five best heavyweights...But we all have to thank him for getting rid of Tim Sylvia. He’d been stinking out the joint the last couple of years and Fedor did everyone a favor by beating him so easily and getting rid of him."
And this, of course, doesn't include Sylvia's (and many others') less than prescient analysis that co-promotion is the future of high-level professional MMA.
Let me be clear: I have always been a Tim Sylvia fan. I will candidly admit part of that is appreciation rooted in pity given how much vitriol Sylvia seems to draw out of the MMA fanbase, hardcore and casual alike. And I tend to gloss over egregious errors in his judgment to keep a slightly manufactured impression of him. But I do respect his game. Yes, he was born with tremendous size, but very little of the natural athleticism to make effective use of it. Sylvia's had success in the MMA game and he achieved it by putting himself through fire time and again to get there. He has precipitously fallen from grace, but I have deep respect for the amount of sacrifice and punishment he endured en route to winning two UFC heavyweight titles.
But if there were ever a fighter who was error prone in terms of managing his career and image, it's Sylvia. He has positioned himself as too expensive to be compensated properly on the smaller shows, but too damaged to be picked up by anyone who can pay a former two-time UFC heavyweight champion still in his early thirties. Now Sylvia wants back in the organization he left for a competitor after losing to pick up on easy paychecks without registering what the long-term consequences would be. Worse, since leaving he has almost irreparably harmed his image and standing with two high-profile losses (high-profile for different reasons), thereby making any interest in him from the higher ups at Zuffa hard to come by. Sylvia's essentially expensive and unpopular. Throw in what appears to be fractured relationships with people in positions of power that you're trying to curry favor with and you've got one tangled mess to undo.
Stranger things have happened. In 2007, no one would've predicted Mir would be a top 10 heavyweight again while Sylvia would be disgracing himself against nearly geriatric former professional boxers desperately needing paychecks. But he is and now he has to extract himself from this precarious position. I believe and hope Sylvia can do it, but to say he's got his work cut out for him is to be charitable.