Abe Wagner (7-3), a former member of Team Rampage on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights (TUF 10), will face ex-UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (28-6) Friday in the Titan Fighting Championships 16 main event LIVE on HDNet.
Abe will have his hands full against the heavily experienced Sylvia who had just won the UFC heavyweight title for the second time when Abe turned pro in 2006. But it is also a tremendous opportunity for Abe to make a statement.
Like Sylvia, the majority of Abe’s wins have also come by knockout and he’s coming off a first round KO of Vinny Pallone at “Fight to Win: The Professionals” this past November.
We talked to his opponent Tim Sylvia earlier today, so we felt it only right we also talk with Abe Wagner. Thankfully, he obliged.
PRO MMA NOW: Hi Abe, thanks for speaking with us at ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com). How has your training been going and how are you feeling leading up to your fight this weekend against Tim Sylvia?
ABE WAGNER: I feel really good going into this fight. I’m the best fighter I have ever been.
PRO MMA NOW: You were on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights season ten. What have you been up to since then, where are you training these days and who helped you get ready for this fight?
ABE WAGNER: I pretty much went back to the life I was living prior to the show. I’m training at MidAmerica Martial Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. My coaches Aaron Cerrone, Ed Shobe, and Anthony Carlson have been preparing me along with way too many training partners to name individually.
PRO MMA NOW: How important is this fight for you?
ABE WAGNER: Tim Sylvia is a huge name and it’s an honor to fight him, but a win will mean a lot for my career.
PRO MMA NOW: What were your thoughts when you first heard that you might have the opportunity to fight Tim Sylvia?
ABE WAGNER: My thoughts were that fighting Tim was a great opportunity and a very winnable fight for me.
PRO MMA NOW: You know, Tim won the UFC heavyweight title on two different occasions. The second time he won, in 2006, was the same year you turned pro. Was he someone that you looked up to back then and did you ever think you might have the opportunity to one day fight him?
ABE WAGNER: Certainly, he has a ton more experience than me and has fought at a much higher level than I have. To be honest, at that point, when I started out, I never really gave it consideration that I’d ever end up fighting him.
PRO MMA NOW: Tim sometimes catches a lot of crap from the fans, but he really does have good boxing for a big guy. What’s your opinion of his striking and do you think you will want to keep this fight on the feet to try and beat him at his game?
ABE WAGNER: I agree that Tim’s boxing is pretty sharp. He really makes good use of his natural gifts. I look forward to testing my skills against his.
PRO MMA NOW: The guy really has beat some great strikers such as Andrei Arlovski, Brandon Vera, and Paul Buentello, just to name a few. He has an impressive record at 28-6 with 18 KO’s. In your opinion, why do you think Tim has gotten a bad rap?
ABE WAGNER: I think a lot of the time what the fans like has less to do with fighting style and more to do with personality and I guess maybe he’s just not as likable as some of the other fighters out there. But I don’t think his “bad rap” is a result of his fighting skill.
PRO MMA NOW: I think one reason Tim has gotten a bad rap is because of some things Dana White said about him, most notably when he said Tim had “been boring people for years.” And then also that fight with Ray Mercer sure didn’t help. Did you think Tim was boring and what did you think about that Mercer fight?
ABE WAGNER: Here’s the thing most people don’t realize about the heavyweight division: as a person’s body gets bigger and stronger, their face and brain don’t really. A heavyweight has about the same face as a lightweight, he just has a guy twice that size hitting him in it. That’s why knock outs are more common among heavier weight classes. And quick knock outs can happen to anyone. So you can’t really hold the Ray Mercer thing against him and judge him by that.
PRO MMA NOW: Would you consider Tim a legend in the sport and can you explain what a win over him would mean for your career?
ABE WAGNER: Any time someone is a multiple time champion at the highest level of the sport, there’s something to be said for that. Hopefully a win over Mr. Sylvia will mean I get to fight in the UFC again soon.
PRO MMA NOW: Abe, best of luck to you this weekend at Titan Fighting Championship 16 against Tim Sylvia. Is there anyone you’d like to thank or send a shout out to?