Tim Sylvia retires from MMA

Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia announced his retirement from professional mixed martial arts on Saturday, shortly after he failed to receive medical clearance for a scheduled contest.

Sylvia, 40, was supposed to fight Juliano Coutinho at a regional event in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Saturday.

According to Sylvia's manager, Monte Cox, the Mohegan Department of Athletic Regulation did not realize Sylvia had reached the age of 40 until very recently. He is listed on various MMA websites as 38 years old.

Due to Sylvia's age, he was required to submit additional medical documents, including a stress test and MRI, as part of his license application. When a last-minute MRI revealed irregularities, Sylvia was denied a license and subsequently retired.

"The commission didn't realize Tim was over 40 until three days before the event," Cox told ESPN.com. "There were some things on the MRI that weren't on another MRI we had on file from 2003, meaning something happened over the course of the last 11 years. A neurologist said it could be something or it could be nothing.

"I think it's the end. He had gotten to a point where his body, through all the wars, just wasn't able to get in the kind of shape he used to. Obviously, you could see that in his weight. He just can't get into competitive form. I think [retirement] is good. With this MRI, why go on, when you're only getting paid a fraction of what you're worth?"

How long the irregularities have existed are unknown. Due to his fighting internationally and on smaller shows, Sylvia hasn't been forced to submit an MRI in years. Cox said the last MRI the fighter underwent was in 2005. Sylvia has suffered three knockout losses in his career.

"He can go back and get another MRI in a year, but basically what they're saying is there's damage from blunt force trauma," Cox said. "He's got damage there. Does it affect his everyday life? Not so far. Not that he can tell -- but it's certainly something to pay attention to."

Sylvia will retire with a professional record of 31-10. Currently living in Davenport, Iowa, Sylvia made his UFC debut in September 2002. He won the heavyweight title at UFC 41 via knockout against Ricco Rodriguez in February 2003. He successfully defended the title later that year, but was stripped of the belt after he tested positive for a banned substance.

He won the UFC title a second time in April 2006, defeating Andrei Arlovski via first-round TKO. His final UFC appearance took place in February 2008, after which he compiled a 7-6 record.