Freak Show: Tim Sylvia vs. Ray Mercer

During the 2000s, Tim Sylvia became one of the most dominant MMA fighters in the world. He won the UFC heavyweight title and became known for his lethal striking ability, winning many bouts by way of knockouts. However, towards the end of the 21st century’s first decade, Sylvia’s performance inside the octagon began to slip and he lost several contests.

Eventually, he was able to get the UFC to release him from his contract with one fight remaining on it. Sylvia was then able to pursue other MMA circuits such as Affliction that did not have exclusive contractual agreements for all of their fighters.  This is what would eventually allow Sylvia to face former WBO Heavyweight Champion Ray Mercer.

Mercer was a champion boxer during the late 1980s and into the 1990s. He won an Olympic gold medal in the 1988 Olympics and went on to hold the WBO heavy Weight Championship. Later on in his career, Mercer experimented with kickboxing where he had some success, but nowhere near that of his boxing career.

In 2009, Tim Sylvia and Ray Mercer would face off against one another in what was originally to be a boxing match. However, due to sanctioning problems, the bout was re-located on several occasions and then just days before the contest was to take place, the fight was changed to MMA rules. This was again due to difficulties with sanctioning the bout.

On June 13, 2009, the fighters — who were now both past their primes — squared off in what was certainly only a novelty fight. Mercer looked like an out of shape forty-seven-year-old, and Sylvia a much younger, but still poorly conditioned, thirty-three-year-old. However, conditioning would not become an issue in this contest by any means. Mercer delivered a huge blow that connected with Sylvia’s chin and knocked out the former UFC champ just nine seconds into the contest.

The KO gave Mercer the distinction of being the first fighter to knock out Silvia in his career. It also gave a little bit of legitimacy to the claim that a boxer will destroy an MMA fighter who attempts to box. However, it should be noted that Mercer did lose by way of submission in a previous fight.

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