UFC Fight Night 40 card: Costas Philippou vs Lorenz Larkin fight preview

This Saturday night (May 10, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin will square off in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 40, airing live at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

No. 12-ranked Philippou has been on a slide as of late. Former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold knocked him out with a devastating liver kick at UFC Fight Night 35, and he dropped a decision to Francis Carmont in his previous bout at UFC 165.

The Cypriot striker badly needs a win to get back some of the momentum he enjoyed during his five-fight win streak from 2011-2012.

He's in for a striking war against Strikeforce import Larkin.

After starting his mixed martial arts (MMA) career with an undefeated 12-0 run, Larkin has been inconsistent in his short UFC stint. He also fought at UFC Fight Night 35, losing a lackluster decision to Brad Tavares.

"Monsoon" has some of the best pure striking in the middleweight division, but he's giving up a big edge in Octagon experience. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Philippou vs. Larkin:

*****

Costas Philippou

Record: 12-4(1) overall, 5-3 UFC

Key Wins: Tim Boetsch (UFC 155), Uriah Hall (Ring of Combat 34), Court McGee (UFC on FX 2)

Key Losses: Luke Rockhold (UFC Fight Night 35), Francis Carmont (UFC 165)

*****

Lorenz Larkin

Record: 14-2(1) overall, 1-2 UFC

Key Wins: Robbie Lawler (Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy), Chris Camozzi (UFC Fight Night 31), Gian Villante (Strikeforce Challengers: Fodor vs. Terry)

Key Losses: Brad Tavares (UFC Fight Night 35), Francis Carmont (UFC on FOX 7)

*****

Possessing legitimate knockout power, Philippou has finished half of his 12 wins with a striking stoppage. He's going to have put forth a special effort to make Larkin the seventh. "Monsoon" was only knocked out in his Strikeforce loss to Muhammed Lawal, a result that was later changed to a No Contest after "King Mo" failed for Drostanolone.

While taking Larkin off his feet and negating his kickboxing would be a much safer path to victory, Philippou most likely doesn't have the grappling game (or desire) to make that happen. Instead, he's going to engage in a firefight and see if his striking holds up.

That could go either way, as Larkin will probably be looking to do the same. The fighters have only one submission win between them, a Philippou rear naked choke back in 2009.

Larkin has admitted his last effort was not an impressive one, so he should be more than motivated to make an example out of Philippou. With eight knockouts in 14 wins, Larkin's striking rivals Philippou's, and may even surpass it. His vaunted kickboxing paid huge dividends while he was in Strikeforce, but now it's time to prove that he can succeed in the Octagon.

Despite his reputation as a knockout artist, Larkin has won his last four victories by decision. If he can pick apart Philippou with a torrent of varied kicks and combinations, he'll go a long way towards neutralizing from Philippou's power.

This fight has slugfest written all over it. Each fighter has to keep his composure intact long enough to implement a solid gameplan.

Anything less could end with a devastating knockout, so enjoy the fight.

Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin are set to throw down in UFC Fight Night 40's co-main event. With both known for their explosive stand-up skills, who are you picking to emerge victorious in Cincinnati?

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