Last night's (Sept. 21, 2013) UFC 165 main card from Toronto, Canada, saw a rare battle of two fighters on five-fight win streaks in the Octagon when Francis Carmont met Constantinos Philippou at Middleweight.
Philippou was the favorite, but Carmont didn't get that memo. The TriStar Gym-trained product had Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in his corner, and he fought like he's been listening to the tutelage of his famous peer.
It was well known that Philippou would most likely look to use his vaunted boxing to batter Carmont, but the Frenchman had the perfect gameplan to combat such an attack. He never let the fight play into Philippou's strengths at any time and took home a very one-sided unanimous decision victory.
Let's take a look at how Carmont took home the win from Air Canada Centre to quietly extend his UFC win streak to six.
The lanky Carmont immediately looked to keep his shorter opponent at bay with a low kick, but that soon turned into a flawless double leg takedown. Carmont was in his world in top position, as hours training alongside "GSP" have certainly sharpened his skills in this area. Carmont rained down ground and ground, but Philippou showed an improved submission offense by looking for a couple armbars and even an omoplata.
The striker from New York couldn't capitalize, and Carmont showed a well rounded mixed martial arts (MMA) game while going for a choke of his own.
That trend continued in the second frame with another Carmont takedown. The action lulled, earning a restart on the feet. But nothing new transpired, as Carmont simply dragged Philippou to the canvas once again. "Limitless" put a stamp on the win in the final round by slamming Philippou to the mat and shouting out each and every ground strike with authority.
It may have been a tactic to sway the favor of the judges, but it was an unnecessary one. Carmont had all three rounds in the bag by effectively neutralizing Philippou's game.
Carmont is on an impressive streak and should be in line for a top bout at Middleweight. However, that may not happen quite yet because his wins over Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin were controversial decisions and his win over Philippou wasn't exactly jaw dropping. True, it was a workmanlike performance that was similar to the fashion in which St. Pierre shuts his opponents down, but Carmont does not have the name recognition that the 170-pound champion does.
The UFC brass will take that into account, and Carmont should find himself fighting a lower-level Top-10 opponent. Perhaps a fight against Yushin Okami, who recently lost to "Jacare" Souza at UFC Fight Night 28, would be an excellent gauge of just how far Carmont's wrestling has progressed. If he can beat "Thunder," he'll be ready to move towards fighting the Top-5 in the division.
It's a disappointing setback for Philippou, who had his momentum doused after racking up several wins. He got exposed last night, and it's going to be tough to shake off the thoughts of him being one-dimensional. He did show some newfound grappling skill on the mat last night, but his takedown defense was atrocious.
That's simply not going to fly in the ultra-competitive waters of the UFC talent pool.
Philippou will need to go back to the drawing board and sharpen up his takedown defense if he ever wants to be a legitimate contender in the Octagon. He's an exciting fighter when presented with the right matchup, but on a card with so many explosive moments, this fight became an afterthought for good reason.
Francis Carmont took a page out of "GSP's" book to smother Costa Philippou in Toronto. Does he deserve to face a top Middleweight?