UFC Fight Night 40's co-main event featured two slumping-yet-talented middleweights in Lorenz Larkin and Costas Philippou.
Larkin narrowly missed a shot at the Strikeforce belt when Luke Rockhold opted to wait out Strikeforce's demise rather than risk his belt withdrew from the fight due to injury and has had a rough time in the UFC since being folded into the promotion. Philippou came very close to contention in the UFC with a win over Tim Boetsch, but he has been pushed to the brink since by back-to-back losses to Francis Carmont and Luke Rockhold.
After some early fireworks, Philippou landed a devastating combination that knocked Larkin out cold. So, what did we learn?
Larkin Has Hit the Wall
Lorenz Larkin oustruck Robbie Lawler not even two years ago. It's amazing that he's declined so much. Shocking really.— Adam Martin (@MMAdamMartin) May 11, 2014
That pretty much sums it up right there. Lorenz Larkin has basically unlearned how to fight. He seemed like he was a potentially elite fighter after starting his career with a 13-0 (1 no-contest) record. Since joining the UFC, though, he has gone 1-3.
There is a legitimate chance he gets cut right here, and just 12 months ago, that notion would have seemed ridiculous.
There's Still Something There with Philippou
We've seen lots of fighters score a few wins over crappy competition, get hugely hyped and then get exposed as time went on (Rick Story is a great example). Philippou may or may not be a top-10 fighter, but at the very least he has something. In beating Larkin, he demonstrated the heavy, super-accurate hands that got him on the map in the first place.
That isn't to say Philippou is anywhere close to reasserting himself as a contender. It just means that there is something there for him to work with.
I Shouldn't be So Cynical
@mookiealexander Slumping middleweights tentatively jabbing each other en route to an unsatisfying 29-28 unanimous decision doesn't do it?— Steven Rondina (@srondina) May 11, 2014
That was me minutes before the fight. I'm a Mr. Snarkypants sometimes. I admit it.
Philippou, obviously, proved me very wrong. He went after Larkin with an intensity I frankly didn't expect and Larkin fired right back.
I don't know...maybe it's just the weakness of recent cards that has me so cynical or maybe I just need to change my outlook. What do you guys think?
The Bookies Are Dumb
The UFC broadcast has been running with the theme of underdogs doing work tonight, but, frankly, the only legitimate surprise tonight was when Daron Cruickshank knocked out Erik Koch. Even so, that was a bout between two flashy strikers with iffy chins and lots of power that still wound up with a 600-point difference.
This fight was the same. One guy with an inexplicably large line over the other that wound up going in the wrong direction for the bettors.
I know the house is always supposed to get the better odds, but whoever was setting the lines needs to get fired.