Last night (Sat., May 10, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight power strikers Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin went to war in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 40 from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Much-needed momentum was at stake with both fighters coming in off a loss.
Cypriot boxer Philippou was hoping to avoid dropping three straight after getting knocked out by Luke Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 35 and losing a decision to Francis Carmont at UFC 165. After winning five consecutive bouts from 2010-2011, the former professional boxer had his back against a wall.
Strikeforce veteran Larkin enjoyed a ton of success in mixed martial arts (MMA) until he made his way to the Octagon. Last seen losing a lackluster decision to Brad Tavares at UFC Fight Night 35 in January, Larkin had much to prove in Cincinnati.
After it was all said and done, the fight delivered as promised, but Larkin couldn't get off the snide. Philippou reminded us why his hands are some of the most powerful at 185 pounds, returning to the win column with a scintillating finish.
When the fight began, Philippou came out strong with a big left hand. He wobbled Larkin with a hard shot and landed a sharp leg kick. Larkin responded with some kicks of his own, and Philippou clinched alongside the cage. Larkin found a home for some quick uppercuts, following up with a body kick. Philippou pressed forward with a combo and Larkin threw some shots before the fight went back to the clinch.
The action broke, but it wasn't destined to last much longer.
Philippou lunged forward with some huge hooks, scoring a left hand before a massive short right landed on Larkin's jaw to put his lights out.
It was a quick and decisive finish for Philippou, who had a ton of question marks after his two straight losses. His win over Larkin was impressive and exciting, but it didn't really provide too many answers about his true readiness to take on the best middleweights in the world.
With an extreme propensity for slugging it out, Larkin was a tailor-made opponent for Philippou's boxing-centered style. He'll most likely maintain his No. 12 ranking, and he claimed to have regained his love for fighting. A bout against the loser of May 31's Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi bout would be an excellent test to show just how far Philippou's takedown defense has progressed.
The loss puts Larkin in an extremely bad position. He's now 1-3 in UFC after entering the promotion undefeated. While many believe his loss to Carmont was undoubtedly a win, that's not going to matter much at this point. He has some excellent striking and proved a game challenger, but he's got a very long and arduous road back to relevancy in UFC.
Given his exciting style, he'll probably get at least one more chance to prove he can win in the Octagon, but the pressure is on. A fight against Ed Herman, who beat Rafael Natal on the UFC Fight Night 40 preliminary card, could be a good match-up for Larkin.
Costas Philippou got back into the win column with a rousing knockout of touted striker Lorenz Larkin. His boxing has always been top-shelf, but is he well rounded enough to swim with the hungry sharks that populate the dangerous UFC middleweight waters?