Costa Philippou is gunning for a fight when he returns later this year, and he couldn't think of a better opponent to face than perennial UFC bad boy Michael Bisping.
Philippou was most recently scheduled for UFC on FX 8 in a bout against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, but the New York-based fighter suffered a deep cut during training that forced him out of the bout.
Now with the wound almost healed, Philippou has one name on his radar, and he's doing everything in his power to make the fight happen.
"He's a huge name, obviously beating Bisping it would put me in the top three, and it works for Bisping too because beating me, it will get him up in the top of the ranks. Maybe give him a title shot. I don't have the name that Bisping has, but I have five wins in a row. He's never had five wins in a row, so I think it would benefit him too," Philippou told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. "He's a great striker, so am I, so I think it would be an exciting fight for the fans."
Throughout his time with the UFC, Philippou has been a worker inside the cage but never one to speak out of turn about opponents or trash talk before a fight. He knows calling out Bisping will certainly get him in the crosshairs of one of the most prolific promoters the sport of MMA has ever known, but he's ready for whatever verbal jabs the Brit throws at him.
He promises that no matter what Bisping says, it won't get to him like it has against some past opponents.
"I understand why he does it, and at the end of the day it's just business. If he chooses to do that, I'm game, not a big deal. I'll go right back at him," Philippou said. "At the end of the day it would be me and him in the cage and I honestly feel I can take him.
"He is a great fighter, nobody can deny that, nobody can take that away from him. I don't know if you're weak mentally and you allow him to get to you, I don't know what to say. I don't think he can get to me mentally, I'm stronger than anybody else mentally. That's not an issue for me. He can talk as much as he wants."
There was already some talking from Bisping earlier on Tuesday when he responded to another call-out from former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, who asked to fight him next in the Octagon. Bisping took a response shot at Rockhold's current 0-1 record in the UFC following a knockout loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8.
If Bisping is looking for an opponent with UFC wins and ranking, Philippou reminds him that he's got five wins in a row and currently sits at No. 6 in the world.
"It's a win-win for everybody. I'm not just anybody, I'm ranked, he can see that. I noticed Luke Rockhold called him out today, but like Bisping said he hasn't won a single fight in the UFC and he told him to go get a few wins in the UFC and then come back. He can't really say that about me," Philippou stated.
"I've been in the UFC for a couple of years and I've been winning. He wants a better opponent, let him step in and prove it."
Philippou's campaign to fight Bisping has officially started, but as of yet he hasn't heard from the former Ultimate Fighter winner. His hope is that Bisping accepts his challenge and the two can meet in the cage later this year and find out which of them is truly an elite middleweight in the UFC.
"I'm waiting," Philippou said about Bisping. "Hopefully he's going to get back to me soon and we'll set that up. I'm willing to fight him anywhere he wants. I'll go to England if he wants."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.