The second fight of the night (no, not that kind) at UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz 2" featured a fight that wasn't booked until just a couple weeks before showtime. That's because Jorge Rivera was supposed to square off against Alessio Sakara before the latter went down with an injury -- again -- and Constantino Philippou stepped up from the undercard to take his place.
It was an extremely big jump up for Costa, who both missed out on a chance to compete at The Ultimate Fighter earlier in his career and dropped his Octagon debut to Nick Catone back in March in New Jersey. Staring down the barrel of a tough fight against a game opponent with his job likely on the line, Philippou came in ready to scrap and prove his worth to his employers.
Because, let's face it, win or lose, you miss 100-percent of the shots you don't take. And these guys were throwing plenty of shots, exchanging big punches mixed with clinch work predicated on fatigue and pacing. Mix in a few dangerous submission attempts and this was one hell of a throwdown that no one really wanted to see beforehand.
After three grueling rounds of back-and-forth action, the judges rendered their decision and awarded the hard fought victory to Philippou, who not only picks up the first win of his UFC career but also easily the biggest victory of his career.
Philippou opened things up by clinching and looking for takedowns early, scoring points while also tiring out his much older and battle worn opponent. The strategy worked wonders when he earned a takedown and worked top control, which would have likely already been enough to win him the round before he landed a huge uppercut later in the frame.
Rivera, always tough and down to get dirty, survived through to the second round and came out ready to brawl. Unfortunately, he ended up getting clipped for his trouble and spent nearly the entire round locked in an omoplata that, truthfully, he should have been submitted by if Philippou knew the proper way to finish the hold, as pointed out so emphatically by color commentator Joe Rogan.
Alas, the third round came with both men seemingly on their last legs but still absolutely going at it like they're fighting over food money. Which, really, they were. Rivera landed a few punishing blows that had his opponent reeling and on the run, but "El Conquistador" just couldn't quite finish the job. He also threatened briefly with a triangle and controlled most of the round.
Add it all up and you've got a relatively entertaining fight that entirely too many fans likely used as a bathroom or popcorn break.
In the end, Philippou was disappointed in his performance, saying he thought the fight "wasn't very good." Either way, he keeps his job and earns plenty of brownie points with his bosses for stepping up into a slot he was never supposed to fill.
As for Rivera, his slide down the middleweight ladder continues and this could very well mean the end of the line for him as a professional fighter.