UFC 154 goes down this Saturday from Montreal, Quebec. Apparently, no one's excited about it, given the ticket sales and what not. If you find yourself in that boat, and you're looking for a little jump start, try looking beyond the main and co-main events. Look to the middleweights.
There, you'll find Nick Ring and Costa Philippou. Conservative me—the one who shows up for the staff predictions—likes Philippou by decision. But my more dangerous self—the one who rides motorcycles and, like, gets in knife fights, or whatever—sees it as a knockout for Philippou.
There's not exactly an air of mystery around Philippou's fighting approach. He tries to punch you. He throws the left, then he throws the right. And if you block it, he throws the left, and then the right again. Maybe he'll throw combinations. Maybe he'll throw some uppercuts. But yeah. He gets in there, and he's throwing.
Part of what sets Philippou apart from other guys who enjoy punching is his excellent takedown defense. In fact, according to FightMetric, he hasn't been taken down in his last three fights, and has an overall takedown defense rate of 85 percent.
So in other words, it's hard to stop the punching. Even so, Philippou hasn't exactly displayed irresistible force. Despite his straightforward and rather effective assault, he has had some difficulty putting guys away. That has hampered his reputation. After all, in this Knockout of the Night, don't-leave-it-in-the-hands-of-the-judges world of ours, a boxer who can't lay the other guy flat on the regular is not always viewed as being excessively useful. It's like fishing without a hook.
This wouldn't seem, then, to mean that Philippou can finish Nick Ring. And to further compound the issue, Ring has never been finished in his career.
But I think Philippou breaks the ice for him. Ring's a tough dude, and likes to bang. He's a good grappler, but there's nothing suggesting he'll succeed where other, better takedown artists have failed. No, this is going to be a standup battle. Philippou will stalk him down, pin him against the fence, get in close and bang, bang, bang. His movement is good enough to prevent the not-exactly-jackrabbitesque Ring from squirting out the sides.
Maybe Philippou didn't finish his last two fights, but when he smells blood, he does attack. Just ask the tough-as-nails Jared Hamman, who fell unconscious under Philippou's fists. Costa knows he needs to win and win impressively to get over the hump in the middleweight division. He'll do it against Nick Ring, and he'll do it with a knockout.