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UFC Fight Night 66 fight card: Gegard Mousasi vs Costas Philippou full fight preview

Gegard Mousasi and Costas Philippou will collide this Saturday (May 16, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 66 inside Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. In a match up of two technical strikers, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Gegard Mousasi and Costas Philippou will duel this Saturday (May 16, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 66 inside Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.

While Mousasi has alternated wins and losses thus far in his UFC career, his defeats have only come to absolute elite. Furthermore, with his unique skill set, he's always an interesting challenge for any of the top middleweights in the world.

After a five-fight win streak earned Philippou the position of contender, two straight defeats halted his rise. Since then, he managed to send Lorenz Larkin down to welterweight with a few big punches and will look for a similar result against "Dreamcatcher."

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for either man:

Gegard Mousasi
Record: 35-6-2
Key Wins: Mark Munoz (UFC Fight Night 42), Ovince St. Preux (Strikeforce: Melendez vs Masvidal), Dan Henderson (UFC on FOX 14)
Key Losses: Ronaldo Souza (UFC Fight Night 50), Lyoto Machida (UFC Fight Night 36)
Keys to Victory: Mousasi is one of the division's finest technical strikers with a background in both boxing and kickboxing. In addition, Mousasi has a highly potent submission game, which accounts for 12 of his victories.

In this bout, Mousasi can likely pursue either his kickboxing attack or grappling. Whichever path he prefers to work, Mousasi should blend his overall game and keep his opponent off-balance.

Since Mousasi generally prefers to stand -- many of his submission wins come from the bottom -- he should look to establish his jab and low kicking game early. Philippou likes to get in close and dig into power shots, but he'll get frustrated quickly if Mousasi is snapping his head back each time he looks to move forward.

When Philippou does manage to cut off the cage or get in close, Mousasi should move into the clinch and work for takedowns. He doesn't have to grind in the clinch for the whole fight, but he should wrestle until Philippou is firmly focused on his takedown defense and not punching Mousasi.

Then, Mousasi can break away and resume his distance striking.

Plus, there's always a decent chance Mousasi can succeed on his takedown. In that case, he's more than equipped to damage or submit Philippou from top position. If the Bellmore Kickboxing-trained product does manage to get back to his feet afterward, he'll be much more hesitant to push forward.


Costas Philippou
Record: 13-4 (1)
Key Wins: Tim Boetsch (UFC 155), Uriah Hall (Ring of Combat 34), Lorenz Larkin (UFC Fight Night 40)
Key Losses: Luke Rockhold (UFC Fight Night 35), Francis Carmont (UFC 165)
Keys to Victory: Philippou is a former professional boxer and has brought those skills into the mixed martial arts (MMA) world fairly well. When he's able to let loose with his power punches, Philippou is a legitimate knockout threat and has finished seven of his past opponents in violent fashion.

Philippou has to close the distance in this bout. On the outside, Mousasi is the much more effective striker, both with jabs and kicks. If he stays at that range and tries to compete with Mousasi, he's in for a rough night.

Instead, Philippou needs to move forward and cut off the cage. This is an area in which his boxing experience should greatly help him, as slipping the jab while closing in on Mousasi will be very important for him.

Once Philippou gets within boxing range, he needs to unless immediately. Additionally, he needs to be throwing at least three or four punch combinations, ideally with some big hooks to the body. Mousasi is a defensively savvy striker; he'll block single strikes and circle out if Philippou isn't aggressive.

Still, it's important for Philippou to stay under control. Though he doesn't often shoot, Mousasi is takedown threat, and Philippou does not want to experience his top game. Therefore, while throwing his combinations, Philippou needs to keep his balance and avoid over-committing in search of a knockout blow.

Bottom Line: Mousasi is a Top 10-ranked fighter and fringe title contender, while Philippou is looking to regain his past momentum. Both men have serious motivation to win this fight, and it should be quite entertaining.

Mousasi hasn't exactly lived up to expectations so far. He has proven himself to be a top fighter, but Mousasi has been inconsistent. Sometimes, he just puts on lackluster performances and seems to be falling short of his potential. If he loses to Philippou, the door is firmly closed on Mousasi's immediate future at the top of the division.

However, this could also be the start of "The Armenian Assassin's" first UFC win streak. Philippou is still a quality win, and while there's a logjam of contenders vying for a title shot at the moment, that should clear up fairly soon. In fact, if Mousasi starts his streak now, the timing could work out very well for him.

At 35 years old, it's now or never for the Cyprus native. If he falls to Mousasi, he'd be in the unenviable position of having lost three of his last four.

That's a difficult situation from which to recover.

On the bright side, Mousasi is a pretty major name and has only been beaten by the best. If Philippou can add his name to that list, it would do big things for his career and set him up for a major fight moving forward.

At UFC Fight Night 66, Gegard Mousasi and Costa Philippou will battle in the co-main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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