Why is it that two of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, and former UFC heavyweight champions, are fighting in one day, but nobody is talking about it?  Is it because the promotion they are fighting in has done a horrible job of promoting the event?  Or, is it because they are “older” fighters that are no longer relevant?  Does the reader even know which two fighters these questions are referring to?

Well, the two fighters, two greats of the sport, are Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia and Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski.  These guys, with a combined winning record of 48-16, will face off at ONE FC 5: Pride of a Nation, on Aug. 31, in Quezon City, Philippines.  However, neither Sylvia nor Arlovski have been “relevant” in at least four years, so should MMA fans care?

Both fighters have had storied careers.

Andrei Arlovski, a 33-year-old Russian Sambo artist, has been fighting professionally since 1999, when he was only 20.  After only a few fights in one year in Russia, he broke into the UFC circuit.  Over seven and a half years in the UFC, he racked up ten wins and four losses, including one interim heavyweight title, plus a defense, and one undisputed heavyweight title, plus a defense.  There was a time in the mid-2000’s that Arlovski was the guy in UFC.  For a Sambo fighter, he has insanely fast and powerful striking ability, and nearly impenetrable takedown defense.  He has thirteen wins by knockout or TKO and has never been submitted.  He’s still young and is currently training at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M.

During the height of Arlovski’s career in the UFC, he beat Sylvia in 47 seconds by submission at UFC 51, and, a little over one year later, lost that title back to Sylvia by a first-round TKO at UFC 59.  Only five months later at UFC 61, he had the opportunity to capture the title back, but he lost to Sylvia by unanimous decision.  That was over six years ago, and the two haven’t faced off since.

So, what about Sylvia?

Sylvia, while three years the elder of Arlovski, didn’t start his professional career until almost two years after Arlovski, but he has taken on twelve more pro fights.  Much like his opponent, Sylvia has the majority of his wins coming by knockout or TKO, but he has been submitted, which could be to Arlovski’s advantage.  He has multiple UFC heavyweight championships with multiple defenses.  Sylvia, a Miletich fighter, had a storied career in the heavyweight division before, during, and after Arlovski’s success.  His style is more of a boxer/street-fighter.  The weird thing about Sylvia is that, nowadays, he is known more for his losses than his wins.  His most publicized loss was most likely his broken forearm at the hands of Frank Mir to give up the title at UFC 48 in 2004.

Both of these fighters have been fighting fairly consistently in lesser promotions, such as Affliction, Elite XC, and Strikeforce, since 2008.  Sylvia has a post-UFC record of 7-3, while Arlovski sits at 4-4, so Sylvia has posted the better record in the last four years, but Arlovski has faced much tougher opponents.

There is no doubt that this will be an awesome fight, so again, why is nobody talking about it?

Honestly, if Zuffa was putting this event on, the buzz would be much greater.  It’s impressive that One FC is able to put this contest together, but this should be a UFC event.  Some people may have gotten sick of the Sylvia/Arlovski face-offs of the mid-2000’s, but it has been a while, and it would be a great event for the fans that know who these guys are, but haven’t seen them fight before.

It’s never a bad idea to put on a throwback fight, especially when it brings back a classic match-up.  It can almost be likened to the Liddell/Ortiz event that should have happened after The Ultimate Fighter: Season 11.  But, are these guys really that irrelevant now?

Absolutely not.

The fight between Sylvia and Arlovski is one that should not be missed and will most likely go down in the record books.  Both of these fighters are still young, have tons of experience, are tremendously skilled, and have helped shape MMA into what it is today.

If a prediction had to be put on this fight, it would have to be Arlovski winning by TKO or submission, because he has a lot more pop in his step than the relatively beat-up Sylvia.  Arlovski is younger, even if only by a few years, but has an arguably more modern training camp at Jackson’s.  While the Miletich system once ruled the sport, the Jackson-Winkeljohn system has more than caught up and exceeded what the Miletich camp has to offer.

But, where is One FC on this one?  The upstart Asian promotion needs to put all their eggs into this basket, but unfortunately have completely dropped the ball.  There are plenty of MMA fans out there that don’t even know about the fight, but had it been billed properly, would probably be all over it.

In reality, there is a big chance that Arlovski, if he really makes a statement, could get a shot to get back into a Zuffa promotion.  Sylvia, on the other hand, probably won’t ever make it back to the big stage.  This creates a situation where Arlovski needs this win, but Sylvia has nothing to lose.  Any real MMA fan needs to pay attention to this fight, because the implications could be huge.

Is this a big fight?  Yes.  Should people care?  Yes.  Unfortunately, this will most likely be one of those events that people will be really upset about the next day.  People are going to be disappointed that they missed such a classic match-up between two of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.

Photo: Andrei Arlovski (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)