Media Blackout: Sylvia Refuses Dot-Com Interview

By: Jake Rossen
Sep 17, 2009
The popularity -- and correlating distractions -- of mixed martial arts has made securing fighters for interviews slightly more difficult than a few years ago. They’re pushed and pulled in a lot of different directions, and a Web site request for comment doesn’t usually trump sponsorship obligations, family, or sleep.

On the whole, though, combat athletes tend to make themselves more available and amenable than their MLB, NFL, or PGA equivalents, most of whom insulate themselves in a Snuggie’s worth of PR and league foot soldiers.

Shocking then, that Tim Sylvia turned down an interview from Fighters.com shortly before Friday’s rebound bout against Jason Riley in Nebraska. Sylvia, savvy media player he is, apparently asked for some of the questions beforehand. And he might’ve been right on board until the interviewer -- identified only as “Chad” -- previewed this home run: “Did you bed [Andrei] Arlovski’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Mikula?”

Chad, Chad. Do you think “Stuttering” John Melendez passed a list of questions over to Ringo Starr’s publicist before asking what we did with the money his mother gave him for singing lessons? If you have to go there, go there unannounced.

The ambush interview can be amusing in the right hands, but in the end, using a crowbar to peer into an athlete’s personal life is only going to result in a greater divide between press and personalities. And if that happens -- if performers begin to look and sound as clinical as the bores in other sports -- fans are going to have a harder time relating. That’s a big, big component of this sport’s success: athletes as accessible, regular people. Not bubble boys.

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