Photo by Josh Hedges via Getty Images
Veteran versus greenhorn, age versus youth.
It was Rivera's 14th fight inside the Octagon while the Cyprus native Phillipou was earning the opportunity of a lifetime, fighting on the main card of a pay-per-view in just his second UFC fight (and having lost his first bout in the promotion.)
The Serra-Longo trained fighter would make the most of his shot at the big time, doing just enough to outwork the veteran and take home a split decision victory.
Find out how he did it after the jump.
Both men were primarily strikers, but it was "Costa's" technique that showed over Rivera's reliance on power strikes throughout the three rounds. Rivera did land a nice pair of hooks in the first, but Philippou's combinations were considerably more effective.
What surprised many, though, was the Cyprus fighter's constant attempts to clinch. Fighting along the fence isn't his strong suit yet he was constantly pushing Rivera into the cage and stalling.
Both men had their moments, Philippou hurt "El Conquistador" early in the second round and looked like he might finish the fight but the crafty veteran pushed back, reversing position and throwing ground and pound strikes at his inexperienced foe.
Another key moment was in the third round as a slick trip takedown from Rivera was countered with a scary omaplata that had Joe Rogan going crazy from the announcer's table. As mentioned earlier, Philippou would go on to win a split decision, but what does this now mean for both fighters?
For Jorge Rivera, he's been a fan-friendly fighter for a long time. His style of constant forward movement and big power strikes is one of the key reasons he was given another opportunity on the main card of a pay-per-view event. Don't be surprised if this was the last time we see him in the Octagon. There's a very real possibility that Rivera will retire. If he decides to stick around for one more fight, then perhaps a match against Tim Credeur would be interesting.
For Constantinos Philippou, he's got to be on top of the world. His fight wasn't the most exciting, but he got the job done in front of a packed arena and hundreds of thousands of viewers around the world. He's still got plenty of work to do if he ever wants to be a threat in the division, but his striking is solid and he's showing improvements in his grappling.
Don't be surprised to see him matched up against fellow UFC 133 winner Rafael Natal, who also scored his first victory in the UFC last night. Another option would be Riki Fukuda as long as his knee injury isn't too severe. Philippou still has a lot of developing to do so they likely won't be rushing him. Don't be surprised to see him squaring off with a UFC newcomer in his next bout as well.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed with "Costa" Philippou last night? Or was his victory more due to the fact that Jorge Rivera is on his last legs?