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UFC 133 fight card: Jorge Rivera vs Constantino Philippou match-up much more than meets the eye

If one didn't know any better, one might be inclined to think that Jorge Rivera is cursed.

That's because the UFC moved mountains to put together a match-up between himself and Italian striker Alessio Sakara. The prevailing thought was that the match-up would prove palatable for even the most jaded of fight fans.

Which is why matchmakers were so persistent in their charge.

However, various factors stopped the bout from ever coming to fruition, including as a part of the main card at tonight's UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz 2" pay-per-view (PPV) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In Sakara's stead will be little known Cypriot, Constantinos Philippou.

It would be easy to pass off the replacement fight as nothing more than filler but that would be doing it a grave injustice. There is much more at stake than meets the eye; much more indeed.

Rivera, at 39-years-old, is as contemplative as ever. The longtime combat veteran has been around the block a few times and the daily grind of ice baths and hard training has taken its toll.

His old bones can only go for so much longer.

And after his crushing defeat at the hands -- and illegal knees -- of Michael Bisping back at UFC 127 in February, just one day before his birthday, "El Conquistador" is knocking on the door that leads to retirement.

At this point, even the slightest bump can push him through it.

That's the potential role open to be filled by Philippou, himself on the brink of unemployment. When you're face is unrecognizable and your name is unfamiliar, it takes something special, something momentous to put yourself on the map.

Sending a veteran into retirement on the main card of a relatively major PPV event would do just that.

So instead of using this fight as a bathroom break or a chance to get your popcorn ready for better match-ups, remember exactly what's at stake when these two meet in the center of the cage to do battle.

It's more than you think.

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