In the current MMA landscape it seems like a folly, given the high amount of fighter injuries, to look forward to promising fights and what their impact will be before they actually happen.

Such was the case with an anticipated contender showdown between Tim Boetsch and Chris Weidman at UFC 155 in December. Weidman is out due to injury and Constantinos Philippou is in as his replacement after losing his own spot on UFC 154 after his opponent Nick Ring pulled out.

For Philippou, a match with a surging middleweight in Boetsch is an opportunity to break into the top ranks of the division. He is 4-1 in the UFC and riding a four-fight winning streak. A member of the Serra-Longo fight team and a teammate of Weidman, he’s yet to face a name in the UFC like Boetsch. But a win over Ring added to his current run would have likely put him in a position to face a top middleweight anyway. Ring and Weidman having to drop out of their bouts turned out to be a silver lining of opportunity for his career.

Boetsch will be losing steam towards his campaign for a title shot against Anderson Silva with his new opponent in Philippou. Given Boetsch’s attitude towards fighting, a win here is just as important as any other, though claiming a win over Philippou won’t warrant the same consideration as TKO’ing a title contender. It will be important for “The Barbarian” to have a good performance against Philippou. Anything less would push him further back on the list of contenders that win their fights in a more impressive fashion.

Even after Boetsch’s lackluster split decision win over Hector Lombard in July, the UFC rewarded his work by keeping him in the mix. So, the UFC does reward consistency, but it is doubtful that a win over Philippou, who is not yet ranked in the top ten, would put him next in line for a title shot in the same way as a fight with Weidman would have. A few other notable contenders have matches coming up, such as Michael Bisping vs.Vitor Belfort in January, Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami on the UFC 155 card, and we can’t forget Weidman hoping to return with a fight against someone near the top of the division. Not to mention champion Anderson Silva’s vacation time in 2013 and all the talk of him in a superfight.

With a decent sized handful of middleweights fighting for the top spot and Silva’s plans for time away, it’s safe to assume that the UFC is in no rush to crown the next middleweight contender. Things will have to shake out—a few more matches between the middleweight contenders will be made and the field will probably be shaped through a few unexpected events like the injury that led to Philippou’s match-up with Boetsch.

Philippou has stood out in the middle of the pack of the UFC’s 185-pound division, and a fight with Boetsch is a strict test to see if he is ready to move up in competition. His originally slated opponent, Ring, was by no means a slouch, but fighting him wouldn’t offer the same answer to the question of whether he is ready for that next step.

In no way should anyone celebrate the misfortune of others, but sometimes it works out to another’s advantage and that can be intriguing. Similar circumstances led to Strikeforce heavyweight Daniel Cormier’s rise to prominence. As a replacement for Alistair Overeem in a tournament full of some the world’s best heavyweights, Cormier, a relative unknown, entered the field and ended up winning the whole thing.

This fight is a definite upgrade for Philippou and his placement in the division hinges on it. Three out of his four UFC wins have come by decision and if he can’t make a statement against Boetsch, he at least needs to prove that he can hang with the top guys as he has been able to with the guys further down the ladder.

Philippou is a former professional boxer and fights most comfortably while staying on his feet and throwing combinations. Most of the UFC’s middleweight contenders have strong wrestling backgrounds, including Boetsch, a former NCAA Division I wrestler and four-time high school state champion. Dealing with being controlled by grapplers will be the biggest hurdle for Philippou. Strong wrestling announced Boetsch’s presence in the middleweight division against Kendall Grove and Weidman blew fans away by completely controlling another well-known wrestler, Mark Munoz, in that aspect.

Philippou usually finds his way back to his feet when taken down or often spends time pinned against the cage. He trains with Weidman, and sharing preparation time will be a big help against Boetsch.

With enough success, the two teammates might even end up eying one another from across the cage in the future.

Photo: Costa Philippou (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.