It didn't take long for Tim Sylvia (23-2) to comment on his upcoming bout with the suddenly unretired Randy Couture (14-8) at UFC 68 on March 3.
Here's a snip from the UFC heavyweight champion in an MMAWeekly.com article:
"My size, my reach, my striking ability... he's been knocked out twice by Liddell. Chuck and I are a lot alike. I believe I'll knock him out ... he wants to take my belt from me and that is something that I will not allow."
Couture speculated last night on "Inside the UFC" during his comeback announcement that "The Maine-iac" needs to manufacture bad intentions for his opponents to get up for fights (among other things).
So far, that doesn't seem to be the case.
Here's another snip from Sylvia:
"Am I surprised [about the return] ? Absolutely, fully surprised. He's Randy. He can do anything he wants. When everybody counts him out, that's when he's at his best. Randy is a great fighter. I even called him and wished him the best of luck. And he's still going to be a great fighter after the fight."
Indeed, both fighters seem to be on their best behavior. However, it's still less than 24 hours since the news was made official.
Without a doubt, Couture has already — albeit politely — given Sylvia some bulletin board material to fire the big man up.
Here's some insight into what motivated Couture to return from a recent column he penned on FightNetwork.com:
Sitting cageside at UFC 65 on November 18, with the deafening crowds at Sacramento's Arco Arena building into delirium, I made up my mind. Watching UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia fight Jeff Monson, knowing both competitors very well, that's really when the thought took hold and I became serious about it.... Tim turned around and kind of took the same approach [fighting not to lose] with Monson after he clearly dominated the first couple of rounds, not just on its feet, but by eliminating the only worry and hope Jeff had for winning the fight on the ground. Tim basically answered the question: can Sylvia go with Jeff Monson on the ground? Not only could he go with him; he had him in a triangle and everything else. I think at that point I expected Tim to show that same fervor that he showed against "Cabbage" and Ricco Rodriguez and in some of his other fights when he was aspiring to be the heavyweight champion. He was clearly the superior striker and again, took that same conservative demeanor, not to lose, instead of trying to put an exclamation point on his performance. I think just seeing that and analyzing that made me realize that I could get in there and I could beat these guys.
Well, we'll find out soon enough whether or not "The Natural" did really "see something" in Sylvia that made him want to return.
For all the crap that Sylvia takes, he's certainly no pushover. And, I think he brings up a valid point when it comes to his punching power (though not the Chuck comparison).
Randy has demonstrated tremendous heart and determination throughout his career. However, all the heart in the world can't erase his last two knockout defeats to Chuck Liddell (20-3).
I'll say this for Randy — he's a smart dude. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he's making all this noise about Sylvia's conservative approach to goad the champ into being more aggressive during their bout, which could ultimately lead to Sylvia making mistakes.
And, all Randy needs is for Sylvia to make one mistake to blow the roof of the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.