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Tim Sylvia to Leave the UFC?

It looks that way. Not only was there a message of a "huge announcement" coming on his website, but The Fight Network is reporting that Sylvia appears to be headed for (financially) greener pastures:

Two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia could announce his decision to leave the Las Vegas-based promotion as early as Friday, according to a source close to the situation. Sylvia, who has one fight remaining on his current contract with the UFC, submitted to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in a bout for the interim heavyweight championship at UFC 81 in February.

Sylvia's departure could set the stage for a lucrative match with former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko later this year. Still widely regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Emelianenko's services are being sought by a number of potential suitors, including EliteXC.

I remember when talk of Brandon Vera heading to EliteXC surfaced, Dana White replied none of the UFC's "stars" had ever left the organization. Now matters are not so similar. While certainly the organization has a bit of a stranglehold on the sport, the fact is it's a fighter's market right now. It appears Josh Koscheck will re-sign to fight Chris Lytle at UFC 86, but Arlovski could leave, Tito is on his way out, Couture is gone and it appears Sylvia is headed in that direction.

I recognize Sylvia isn't a fan favorite, but he's a huge asset for another organization. He's a legitimate top 10 heavyweight who, against sub-UFC level competition, could put on spectacular fights with his KO power. I personally believe his recent tentativeness has been due to his desire to recapture the belt. Now that that appears to be off the table and with the competition noticeably weaker, we could very well see a Sylvia willing to finish the fight.

Dave Meltzer reported a few weeks or months ago that negotiations between Sylvia and the UFC were not going well as Sylvia was looking for more money than the UFC was willing to offer. You have to believe a competitor would be more than willing to match Sylvia's asking price, baggage or not. I just wonder if Sylvia will be allowed to return to the UFC. Tito was brought back after a nasty break-up as was BJ Penn. It'll be interesting to see how each side characterizes the separation.

Stay tuned.