Tim Sylvia Meets Jerome LeBanner in Pro Wrestling Bout on Year-End Dream Card

Tim Sylvia

Sylvia still fights in Japan after Rogers fight was scrapped

Tim Sylvia will be in Japan to ring in 2012, after all.

With his fight against Brett Rogers at Dream’s New Year’s Eve show scrapped when Rogers could not obtain a visa, Sylvia will now take part in the card in a pro wrestling bout against Jerome LeBanner. Sources close to the fighters confirmed the matchup to HeavyMMA.com on Thursday morning.

Sylvia had been scheduled to meet Rogers in an MMA fight on the card, a booking first reported by HeavyMMA. The timing of the fight raised questions from the start, though, since Rogers was not scheduled to be released from jail in Minnesota until Dec. 13 – leaving him a short training window, as well as a a short time to obtain his visa. Rogers was given a 60-day sentence following a domestic abuse charge over the summer. But as HeavyMMA also reported first last week, Rogers’ had issues obtaining a visa, effectively scrapping the fight.

Now Sylvia, a former UFC heavyweight champion, will work a bout against LeBanner for the Inoki Genome Federation, one of Japan’s elite pro wrestling promotions. Sylvia-LeBanner joins several other IGF-promoted pro wrestling bouts on the Dream card, including Josh Barnett vs. Hideki Suzuki. It won’t be Sylvia’s first foray into the world of Japanese pro wrestling. In September 2010, Sylvia wrestled in Japan on a card along against Barnett. That show also featured Bobby Lashley and Bob Sapp.

Sylvia and LeBanner finally will meet – just in a predetermined fight instead of an MMA bout. The two were first talked about for a fight more than three years ago before the collapse of Affliction’s short-lived MMA promotion, but the fight never materialized.

Sylvia (30-7) has won six of his last seven after a three-fight skid that saw losses to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81, Fedor Emelianenko at the first Affliction show and a 9-second loss to boxer Ray Mercer at an Adrenaline MMA show. But he rebounded and won four straight, all by stoppage, before being knocked out in 32 seconds by Abe Wagner at Titan Fighting Championships 16 in January. After a win over unknown Patrick Barrentine on a regional show in Illinois, Sylvia beat Andreas Kraniotakes on ProElite’s second show last month.

LeBanner (3-3) has dabbled in pro wrestling for IGF, including a win over Barnett last month. But it is his kickboxing career, with 72 wins, that has made his name. LeBanner last fought in MMA at last year’s New Year’s Eve Dynamite show, losing to Satoshi Ishii.

Dream’s year-end show, “Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011,” will air on HDNet. The card include the semifinals and finals of the bantamweight tournament; a lightweight title fight between champion Shinya Aoki and Satoru Kitaoka; a featherweight title bout between champ Hiroyuki Takaya and Takeshi Inoue; and the return of Fedor Emelianenko to the New Year’s Eve stage for the first time since 2007. The legendary Russian fought on New Year’s Eve cards in Japan each year between 2003-07.