UFC Fight Night 35: Focused on Rockhold, Philippou Still Wants Bisping

Mitchell CiccarelliAnalyst IJanuary 11, 2014

Photo by Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Around this time last year, Constantinos Philippou was on fire in the UFC’s middleweight division.

The Cypriot fighter entered 2013 on a five-fight winning streak and was fresh off an impressive TKO finish over top-ranked Tim Boetsch at UFC 155. By all indications, “Costas” looked like he was on the verge of entering the title hunt at 185 pounds.

Then he lost.

It was at UFC 165 in an extremely uneventful bout against TriStar Gym’s Francis Carmont. A striker by trade, Philippou was taken down early in the fight and struggled to keep Carmont from laying on top of him for 15 minutes.

In one night, Philippou lost his divisional momentum, but as we've grown accustomed to in this sport, sometimes a loss can help elevate a fighter to new levels. 

Next Wednesday night, at UFC Fight Night 35, Philippou battles former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold down south in Atlanta, Ga. The bout will serve as the night’s main event.

A win will surely put the Long Island native back on track as he looks to, once again, climb the rankings in 2014.

“This fight against Luke Rockhold is the biggest fight of my career. This is my first time headlining a show and I’m excited to go out there and put on a great performance,” Philippou told Alchemist Radio.

“My last fight was really boring so I have to make this one exciting just to prove to everybody that I am an exciting fighter.”

Photo by Fox Sports

It’s strange to me to hear Philippou say he has to prove to people that he’s not boring. I mean, after all, he wasn’t the one causing the boo-birds to reign in during that bout. That was Carmont’s doing. All of Philippou’s performances up to that point, for the most part, were entertaining affairs.

At the end of the day, though, Philippou explained to us that he failed to get Carmont off of him. Styles make fights, and he believes, stylistically, he’s got a good one here against Rockhold.

But there’s also another matchup that Philippou has wanted for a long time. While he assured us that he is absolutely focused on Rockhold, Philippou still has his sights set on a future date with Michael Bisping.

“If I beat Rockhold, I want Michael Bisping next,” Philippou said.

“I think Bisping is a great fighter and stylistically we would have a very exciting fight. One thing at a time though, I’ve got Rockhold in front of me and I am absolutely not looking past him at all. Rockhold is my main focus right now. If I get my hand raised, then we can start talking about Bisping again.”

It’s no secret that “Costa” wants to step into the Octagon with the polarizing Brit. In fact, Philippou asked for the fight on many different occasions, but it never materialized.

Unlike every other fighter who calls out Bisping, Philippou doesn’t have a grudge against him. He doesn’t want to fight him because he dislikes him, like Tim Kennedy does. He wants that fight for one reason and one reason only: He thinks it would be a classic.

“I feel that I match up well with Bisping, and it will be a thriller. That’s why I want to fight him. I have a lot of respect for him and think he’s a great fighter,” Philippou said.

“Everybody else wants to fight him because they hate on the guy or whatever, but that’s not me. I don’t even know the guy. How can I hate somebody that I don’t even know?”

Click to listen the full interview from Alchemist Radio on Stitcher and iTunes.

Mitch Ciccarelli is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and co-host of Alchemist Radio. He is also a United States Airman. Follow him on Twitter @MitchCiccarelli and follow @AlchemistRadio.