Costa Philippou (12-2 1 NC, 5-1 UFC) vs. Francis Carmont (21-7, 5-0 UFC)
Philippou and Carmont put their win streaks on the line as each look to move up in the UFC’s middleweight rankings on Saturday night at UFC 165. Philippou enters the fight riding a five-fight win streak and currently is ranked seventh in the UFC rankings. He last fought at UFC 155 in December when he defeated Tim Boetsch. Carmont puts his ten-fight win streak on the line though he was lucky to have won his last two bouts. He is coming into this fight off a decision win over Lorenz Larkin at UFC On FOX 7 in April.
Fight Breakdown- Philippou was scheduled to fight Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza in May but was forced out due to an injury. It was really unfortunate that happened as it was a real high-profile bout for Philippou and a chance to establish himself as a true contender. No offense to Carmont, but he is a notch below the levels that Philippou’s recent opponents or fighters he was scheduled to fight are at. Philippou has scored some solid wins in recent outings and he has controlled all of the fights he has been in. He gradually wore down Tim Boetsch when they fought at UFC 155 in December using solid takedown defense and ground-and-pound en route to a TKO win in the third round. His wins over Riki Fukuda and Court McGee in his two fights prior to the fight against Boetsch showed that his striking is really coming into its own, but that his wrestling is very solid as he had no problem dealing with two guys who like the takedown. He’s gonna have to be ready for another fighter who likes the takedown and the submission game when he steps inside the Octagon against Carmont. Philippou has undergone some changes in training camps, and this will be his first fight since moving his camp.
Carmont comes from the Tristar Camp in Montreal and always has UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre in his corner. He has a lot of good training, and while he has won all five of his UFC bouts, the last two wins have been highly controversial. He scored a decision win over Tom Lawlor at UFC 154 last November, and it was highly-debated whether he won the fight. While he won on two of the three judges’ scorecards, many thought that Lawlor had done more to win the fight. The same will be said of his win over Lorenz Larkin at UFC On FOX 7 in April. He won a unanimous decision on that, but many had the fight in favor of Larkin and the crowd let Carmont know their displeasure with the decision on that night. His offense in both of those bouts left a lot to be desired, and he will need to get back to the kinds of attacks he displayed in his submission wins over Karlos Vemola and Magnus Cedenblad in 2012. While he is getting tougher competition as he moves up the rankings, finishing fights will get him even more noticed in a crowded 185-pound division, and relying on the scorecards is a dangerous way to fight.
Carmont is going to have the edge in height, reach and strength in this bout, though Philippou is solidly-built middleweight who has a lot of strength as well. Philippou comes from a boxing background and has excellent punching and a lot of power, but the thing he has struggled with most is fighting in the clinch. While Carmont’s reach advantage of five inches may get him in the mood to stand and trade exchanges, Philippou’s quick hands will negate the reach as he will look to test the chin of Carmont. Carmont has good leg kicks and will need to keep Philippou at a distance with them as he looks to effectively utilize the clinch. Carmont likes to drain his opponent’s cardio out with clinch battles, so to avoid the clinch battles, Philippou is going to need to circle a lot and utilize solid footwork. He has quick combinations and if he can fire off some kicks of his own, it will take Carmont away from looking for the takedown.
While Philippou has shown good takedown defense recently, he needs to be ready to sprawl-and-brawl as Carmont is going to be looking for that takedown. Carmont has excellent submission skills, and while Philippou himself is solid on the ground, Carmont is better. He may not submit Philippou, but Carmont will attack with ground-and-pound and will need to keep this away from being a close fight on the scorecards. He was gifted two straight decisions, but getting three straight unlikely decisions would be pushing his luck, so he will need to leave zero doubt in the minds of not only the judges, but fans and media alike. Carmont will be looking to dictate the pace and tempo of this bout through clinch work and takedowns, but as fights always find their way back to the feet, that is where Philippou is going to do his damage. Philippou being able to fire off quick and powerful combinations will keep Carmont at a distance, and whether this finds a late stoppage or goes to the judges, Philippou will have done enough to take home the win.
Why It Matters- Philippou winning would be huge for him as it would be six straight wins and could set him up for an opportunity to fight for the title. When you look at the middleweight top ten rankings, he is the guy most overlooked, and that can be a dangerous thing. He used to train with current champion Chris Weidman, and perhaps he would know what it takes to beat Weidman should Weidman defeat Anderson Silva for a second time. Carmont wants to keep his win streak going, and a win would vault him into the top ten in the rankings and would also be six straight in the UFC, and eleven straight overall. He wants to put the fluke wins of his last two fights behind him, and finishing Philippou would do a lot to do that and silence any critics he may have.
Tags: Costa Philippou, Francis Carmont, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC, UFC 165