This Saturday (Sept. 21, 2013), Constantinos Philippou and Francis Carmont will square off at Middleweight on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 165 from Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Both Philippou and Carmont are heavy-hitting combatants currently sporting five-fight win streaks in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Philippou has the slight advantage thanks to his No. 7 ranking. The New York-based 185-pound standout is riding the momentum of his recent wins, with the latest being a third round technical knockout of Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 last December. His first mixed martial arts (MMA) bout of the year will be a tough one against the dangerous -- yet under-the-radar -- Carmont.
Carmont is a TriStar Gym-trained product out to prove he deserves to face top competition. He was last seen defeating talented striker Lorenz Larkin at UFC on Fox 7, and will look to gain the biggest win of his career with an upset of Philippou in Toronto.
Both fighters have a lot to prove at UFC 165 because a win is absolutely necessary to keep moving up in the competitive 185-pound landscape. The fight could earn Philippou the Top 5-ranked opponent he's been looking for, while Carmont could shake things up and establish himself as an unexpected player in the division.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Constantinos Philippou vs. Francis Carmont:
Record: 12-2(1) overall, 5-1 UFC
Key Wins: Tim Boetsch (UFC 155), Court McGee (UFC on FX 2)
Key Losses: Nick Catone (UFC 128)
Keys to Victory: The Cyprus-born Philippou is a dangerous striker who is looking to break through by recording a six-fight win streak at UFC 165. He was scheduled for a defining fight against the surging Ronaldo Souza at May's UFC on FX 8, but an unfortunate cut forced him to withdraw from the bout.
Carmont may be a lesser-known name, but that doesn't mean he should be overlooked. To win this Saturday, Philippou will look to use his polished boxing to pick apart Carmont. Philippou has three professional boxing bouts to his name, and this skillset will be on full display in Toronto. He'll hold a decided advantage on the feet and his southpaw stance should enable him to land a ton of varied punches throughout the bout.
Possessing a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Philippou does have some submission skills in his arsenal. However, Carmont has obtained 10 wins by way of the tapout, so Philippou should look to avoid a grappling battle unless he has no other choice. Philippou has only been submitted once in his entire career, but making it a kickboxing match will play into his strengths in a much more productive fashion.
Carmont has been training extensively with UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in Montreal, so you can be sure that his takedown and ground games will be on point. Because of this, Philippou will look to exercise his striking skills while avoiding takedowns and keeping Carmont on the outside. If he can stop Carmont from smothering him, he'll be well on his way to a sixth victory inside the Octagon.
Record: 21-7 overall, 5-0 UFC
Key Wins: Lorenz Larkin (UFC on FOX 7), Tom Lawlor (UFC 154)
Key Losses: Evangelista Santos (WFC- Europe vs. Brazil)
Keys to victory: Although Carmont remains undefeated in UFC, his last two fights against Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin have been highly controversial decisions that many believe could have gone the other way. Because of this, Carmont's five-fight win streak is a bit tarnished, and he'll need to make a statement to show his worth in a tough division.
This fight against Philippou is the perfect chance to do just that. And Carmont is in a great position to play the spoiler because he isn't getting a lot of credit thanks to his recent bouts. Philippou will be far from an easy task thanks to his vaunted boxing. Carmont should look to utilize some of the wrestling skills he's undoubtedly gained during his time at TriStar. That training will prove invaluable in this fight, as there's no reason to play into Philippou's glaring strong point.
Carmont will absolutely need to make Philippou prove he can defend takedowns, and if he can't, Carmont should hold an edge on the ground. Carmont's propensity for finishing fights via submission may provide a good chance to win against Philippou, but a grinding decision may be more likely. Although he'll probably get clipped with some hard shots while trying to drag the fight to the ground, that's just an inherent risk here.
St. Pierre has heaped a high amount on praise upon Carmont, but his fights haven't exactly proved that hype to be true. To win at UFC 165, Carmont will need to drown out all of the noise from his critics, many who believe that he doesn't even belong in this fight in the first place.
The time could be ripe for Carmont to gain an upset in Toronto, and the Canadian crowd should be behind him in full force. Carmont has only been finished by strikes once, so that resiliency will be crucial when the going gets tough. If he can implement a wrestling-based gameplan that neutralizes the striking prowess of Philippou, a surprising victory could be within reach.
Bottom Line From Toronto: The bottom line for this fight is that the winner will emerge with the momentum of a six-fight win streak. This bout almost feels like it's a proving ground for Philippou, because if he wins at UFC 165, a step up to the top level in almost imminent. Carmont could ruin all of those plans, but he also has much to prove after two closely contested (and rather uninspired) decisions went his way.
While it may seem like it, this fight is not necessarily a battle of striker versus grappler.
Carmont can hang with good strikers on the feet, but there's no reason for him to prove that against Philippou if he doesn't have to. Using his grappling is the best way to win here, and taking Philippou out of his comfort zone will provide the best chance to win.
On the other hand, if Philippou can defend some takedowns and create some separation, he'll be able to open up his striking. Carmont will need to stay focused mentally because Philippou does possess the power to end this fight quickly with a barrage of punches. Having never been knocked out, Philippou has a good chin, so he'll be extremely comfortable when the fight is standing. The fight's result will sway depending on whether or not Carmont gets him out of that zone.