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Tim Sylvia And The Unfair Catch 22 Preventing His UFC Return

Dana White at the UFC On Fox 4 Pre Fight Press Conference. Photo by Esther Linn of MMA Fighting.
Dana White at the UFC On Fox 4 Pre Fight Press Conference. Photo by Esther Linn of MMA Fighting.

Catch 22 - A paradoxical situation in which an individual cannot avoid a problem because of contradictory constraints or rules. Often these situations are such that solving one part of a problem only creates another problem, which ultimately leads back to the original problem. Catch-22s often result from rules, regulations, or procedures that an individual is subject to but has no control over - definition by Wikipedia.

UFC President Dana White was asked by MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani after the UFC On Fox 4's Pre Fight press conference, why he essentially vetoed Tim Sylvia's return for a fight in Strikeforce against Daniel Cormier, when according to what Helwani had been hearing a deal was close to being made.

White recounts that Sean Shelby had been 'moving down the road' on a deal with Sylvia, but that neither himself or Lorenzo Fertitta were on board with the idea.

In a media scrum the same day, White elaborated more on what he believes Tim Sylvia needs to do to come back:

If Tim Sylvia went out and beat somebody, that it would make sense for him to come back to the UFC, then yeah. You know, I keep hearing stuff, he's won 5 in a row, or how many ever in a row -- whoever knows, I don't know -- but who has he beat, you know? If he beat someone that was worthy of him coming back, then yeah.

A reporter goes on to ask if White has anything personal against Sylvia, which White quickly denies and states while they aren't friends his relationship with Sylvia is no different to many of the fighters who are currently in the UFC.

While I and many others have no problem with Sylvia being turned down in favor of Frank Mir facing Daniel Cormier, as that is a more relevant and intriguing fight for both men right now in their respective careers, White's logic for Sylvia is flawed and creates an almost impossible situation for the former two time UFC Heavyweight champion.

The problem is, who exactly that isn't in the UFC is considered a good enough scalp for Sylvia to collect to get another shot in the Zuffa owned promotion? Sylvia has won 7 of his last 8 fights, and has won 3 in a row against guys most people wouldn't have heard of, outside Paul Buentello who is largely considered a non-factor at Heavyweight these days, and Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski, which again, means nothing.

Fighting at Heavyweight on the Fuel TV preliminary card for this weekend's UFC on Fox 4 Shogun vs Vera event, is Oli Thompson and Philip de Fries, who had won 5 in a row and 3 in a row respectively against nobodies to get into the UFC. Neither of them are former UFC champions who have been in there with some of the best of all time, and no one is considering either to be the future of the division with recent losses to Shawn Jordan and Stipe Miocic.

By Dana White's logic, Thompson and de Fries should not be in the UFC for the same reasons Sylvia isn't. And if Dana White considers the only Heavyweights of worth Sylvia needs to beat are ones that happen to be under UFC contract, Sylvia will never get the opportunity to fight his way back because of the 'monopoly' of talent UFC has exclusive rights to.

Tim Sylvia is in a catch 22 situation Dana White has created, blackballing Sylvia in the process, while maintaining this false public image of anyone having the ability to work their way toward a UFC contract.

Maybe it's the atmosphere of the Olympics right now, but this sort of behaviour isn't exactly befitting of a sport that wants to be seen as legitimate, competitive and as fair as the other mainstream sports it wishes to be counted an equal among.