Michael Bisping vs. Costa Philippou Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2013

Michael Bisping vs. Costa Philippou Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    Michael Bisping and Costa Philippou are currently ranked as the No. 4- and No. 7-ranked middleweights in the UFC. They also seem destined to meet according to Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight.

    The middleweight contenders are primarily strikers, but have well-rounded skills to compete wherever the fight ends up.

    Bisping rebounded from an early 2013 to Vitor Belfort with a technical decision win over Alan Belcher. Philippou is the winner of five straight, including stoppages over Jared Hamman and Tim Boetsch. The winner of this fight may earn himself a shot at gold.

    Here is your early head-to-toe breakdown of this middleweight showcase.

Striking

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    Both Bisping and Philippou are quality strikers. Neither individual has ever submitted someone inside the Octagon.

    Bisping has turned into one of the best boxers in the division. His high output breaks opponents. He sets a high pace, and he keeps it up. It will not break Philippou.

    Philippou is the better pure striker between the two, and he possesses more power. That is why he stands slightly above Bisping in this category.

    The long-time middleweight contender can compete with Philippou on the feet. That's clear. However, if it is just a stand-up battle then the needle bends slightly in Philippou's direction. It is a good thing, for Bisping, that this is MMA and not kickboxing.

    Edge: Philippou

Grappling

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    This could be where the fight is won and lost.

    Philippou trains alongside some of the best grapplers in the sport, and that includes the newly minted UFC Middleweight Champion. Philippou's grappling is still a work in progress, but it has been good enough thus far throughout his career.

    For Bisping, his evolution in grappling has been quite stunning. He has improved into a quality grappler throughout his career, and that may be his game plan entering the fight. His grappling may open up his striking, and vice versa.

    Bisping is the better grappler, but it will be his ability to mix things up that opens all the doors for him.

    Edge: Bisping

Submissions

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    This is very similar to the previous slide.

    Philippou is a boxer who is continuing to evolve and add to his game. His grappling and submission game are good, but not great. Philippou is just not up to Bisping's level yet.

    The good news for Philippou in this bout is that it is not like he is going up against an accomplished submission artist like Jacare Souza. Bisping will not be shocking him with supreme jiu-jitsu technique. He will have seen better attempts in practice.

    Regardless, Bisping is the better submission fighter. Just don't expect that to be the story of the fight.

    Edge: Bisping

X-Factors

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    Bisping's X-Factor: Threaten With Takedowns

    As previously noted, Bisping is not the better striker. He is a very good striker, but in this matchup he would need to threaten with the takedown. Just enough to make Philippou react.

    The great thing about MMA is that lesser strikers can out-strike their more accomplished opponent, and the same goes with grappling. The other strengths open doors. Making Philippou react hurts his striking defense. In turn, that would allow Bisping to score.

    He needs to be more than a volume striker in this fight.

     

    Philippou's X-Factor: Make Bisping One Dimensional

    Philippou must make Bisping one-dimensional. He must touch him up early, and thus force him to become a wrestler.

    That would make Bisping easy to defend. Philippou could take control from that point.

    Bisping isn't the strongest wrestler Philippou has faced, and if Philippou made Bisping one-dimensional it would make his takedown attempts telegraphed. That is what Philippou would need to do in this fight. He could win a pure stand-up battle.

Prediction

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    Could Philippou force Bisping to be one-dimensional in this fight?

    I don't believe so.

    Bisping's ability to transition from striking to wrestling would be the difference. Philippou hasn't faced a middleweight of this quality yet, and he would be too far out in the deep end of the pool to win this fight.

    Philippou would do alright in the early portion of the fight, but it would be Bisping's pace that would win the night. From striking to grappling Bisping would be relentless. He would tire Philippou out. It would be constant work from the Brit.

    Bisping would take the fight on points.

    Prediction: Bisping defeats Philippou by unanimous decision