Costa Philippou was absolutely phenomenal at UFC 155, where he dismantled a game and fully capable Tim Boetsch and ended "The Barbarian's" unbeaten streak at middleweight with an impressive third-round TKO.
Or so you would think, judging from the people who are calling the victory Philippou's "signature win."
The reality of the situation is far from that. Philippou was dominant in Rounds 2 and 3, but he was dominant against Helen Keller, essentially.
The first round of the fight saw Boetsch go two-for-two with his takedown attempts and land 64 percent of his significant strikes, including a vicious front kick that floored Philippou at the round's end.
Between rounds, however, we quickly learned that something was up with Boetsch's hand. His trainer, Matt Hume, could be heard giving Boetsch a pep talk that essentially amounted to "shut up, ignore it and fight."
Well, Boetsch tried to do just that, but it was not to be. An inadvertent headbutt opened a gash on Boetsch's head, causing blood to pour in and around his eyes.
Making this even worse, Philippou caught Boetsch with a nasty eye poke that clearly inhibited "The Barbarian's" vision for the remainder of the fight.
Let's go down the checklist:
Broken (or at least injured) hand—check.
Gash from a headbutt—check.
Would a healthy Boetsch defeat Philippou?
Ladies and gents, Tim Boetsch suffered these injuries on top of the usual punches and kicks a fighter receives, and he still trucked through this fight until it was just too much to handle.
I would like to say I'm not trying to take anything away from Philippou—he seems like a great guy and is a worthy challenger—but the reality of the situation is that I am trying to take something away from his victory.
Given Boetsch's condition (the man was pulling guard, for the love of all that's holy), the FightMetric statistics and the firsthand analysis anyone with eyes could gather, it is not a stretch to say Philippou's victory was a direct result of Boetsch's injuries.
It is not totally fair to claim that, so I'll just say this: Boetsch should not take a step forward or backward with the loss.
When you're fighting with one impaired eye and only one good hand, simply making it to the third round is an accomplishment.
Philippou might be the future of the middleweight division, but let's wait for his next fight to decide just how good (or average) he is.
For Boetsch, I think the same is fair, and we need to wait for a healthy "Barbarian" to turn in three full rounds before casting him off as a legitimate middleweight contender.