As we all know, UFC 165 hits Toronto tomorrow night and the media has made much ado about Jones / Gustafsson and whether or not Jones can defend his title for a sixth time, or whether or not Gustafsson is finally the guy to dethrone the champ.
Beyond that, the headlines have been dominated by the Barao / Wineland fight, the interim status of the bantamweight belt and the much anticipated return of injured division champion, Dominick Cruz.
Even Matt Mitrione and Brendan Schaub have managed to garner headlines and interest, with their battle of the dueling friends and the settling of all Twitter slights.
Yet, a fight that has gone under the radar and has culled no attention for itself is that of Costas Philippou & Francis Carmont. The bout is an important one for both fighters and carries some significance within the middleweight division.
Sitting fourth from the top of the card, Philippou / Carmont could well be a bout that marks the ascension of Philippou into contender status or puts Carmont on the map in the 185 pound division.
Costas is currently ranked in the number seven spot at 185 pounds and carrying a five fight winning streak into the Octagon. He’s coming off of a TKO win over Tim Boetsch, however, that was back in December of last year and as such, Costas could be susceptible to ring rust. Philippou was set to fight Jacare Souza this past May, however, he was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a cut around his eye. Had he been able to take that bout and win, he could easily be sitting in Souza’s three spot, now.
On the other hand Carmont is unranked, but also on a five fight UFC winning streak (10 professionally) and coming off of a decision victory of Lorenz Larkin.
If we compare the two straight up, the match is primarily a striker vs. grappler match up, with the stand-up advantage going to Philippou and the ground advantage going to Carmont. Philippou caries some pack with his punches, finishing half of his professional fights by way of KO or TKO, while Carmont has only been able to finish 29% of his fights on the feet.
Comparing them on the ground, Carmont has ended nearly 50% of his fights by way of submission, while Philippou clocks in at a mere 8%. Although it appears Carmont has a considerable advantage on the ground, one has to keep in mind that Costas likes to keep a fight standing and that a lack of submissions doesn’t mean he can’t fight on the ground.
If I had to pick an “X” factors for this fight, then I’d pick Philippou’s camp, as one; Serra-Longo Fight Team. Costas is training with one of the best camps in MMA and more particularly middleweight champion, Chris Weidman. As such and given that the fight starts on the feet, Carmont might find it difficult to get Philippou to the ground and submit him. If he can’t, then he could easily find himself knocked out or on the losing end of a decision victory.
For Carmont, I’d pick a few things. First, he’s the taller and longer fighter. At 6’3” and with a 78 inch reach, Carmont is both four inches taller and five inches longer in reach, then Philippou. If he can work that height and reach advantage and keep Philippou just to the outside of it, he might be successful with it.
Also, at age 31, Carmont is two years younger than Philippou and is fresh from the Octagon, having fought only five months ago. Philippou, however, hasn’t fought in nearly ten months and at age 33 (34 in November), the off time and his age may play a role in the fight.
That said though, I’m going to pick Philippou and regardless of any Carmont “X” factors. Costas has been looking very good in his last few fights and in training with Weidman, Longo & Serra, Philippou is apt to only become more difficult to take down, with a better ground game once there and with nastier stand-up while on the feet. Although Carmont himself has a great team (Tri-Star), I think I’m going to have to give this one to Philippou and his camp.
If Costas does win tomorrow night, a bout that should and will probably be made will be Philippou / Souza and that would be a fun match to watch. As we all saw in Souza’s last match, his stand-up has become something to admire and a bout between himself and the boxing savvy Philippou would be a must see, and a fight that would sit beautifully atop a UFN card.