Francis Carmont had something to prove at UFC 165 after his past two fights were very controversial decisions that just happened to go his way. Carmont has had a tough road, with people saying he was given easy opponents to beat and was lucky to win his last two fights. The UFC did him no favors putting him in the cage with Costa Philippou, who, at the time, was a top-10 middleweight on the UFC’s roster.

After those last two disappointing performances, Carmont changed gears and dominated on his way to victory over the course of the three-round fight and neutralized everything Philippou attempted. The fight didn’t win over fans or UFC President Dana White. It wasn’t an “exciting” match. It certainly wasn’t enthralling to sit there and watch Carmont dominate from the top for 80 percent of the fight. However, what the fight did was to redeem Carmont’s “future title contender” status, which he earned before the Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin fights.

Carmont is a big, physical specimen riding an 11-fight winning streak. Carmont is undefeated in six UFC bouts, and that win over Philippou is the biggest statement-maker of all six wins.

Carmont isn’t going to impress anybody with his fight style, obviously. He isn’t a flashy striker or a submission specialist. He is a neutralizing specialist. People have problems with the way he fights, but that doesn’t mean Carmont isn’t a top-10 fighter at middleweight. Currently, journalists have him ranked seventh in the official UFC rankings, ahead of guys like Tom Boetsch and, of course, Philippou.

People like to take a shot at his style, but Carmont wins fights. In the end, that is all that matters.

Let’s just take a look at his fight with Philippou. Carmont had over 12 minutes of dominating top control in the fight. He was able to utilize his obvious size and strength advantage, and he just gave nothing to Philippou. Philippou, riding a five-fight winning streak that includes a victory over Boetsch, had nothing to give. Carmont’s wrestling looked absurdly good in that fight, and he looked very well-rounded on the ground in avoiding the few submissions that Philippou threw his way.

Carmont took a page out of training partner Georges St-Pierre’s playbook in that fight. He did what he did best and, in doing so, put a spotlight on what his opponent doesn’t do very well.

Training with GSP should help Carmont solidify his status in the rankings and as a title challenger to the middleweight champ, be it Chris Weidman or Anderson Silva after their rematch. Carmont could have used a dominant finish to solidify that status, but, in reality, this wasn’t a bad performance by Carmont. In fact, it gives credence to just how good he can be.

Of course, a stoppage would have been the better way to stake a claim in the top 10. Impress the UFC brass and get the fans cheering your name for battering your opponent on the way to victory, that’s the best way to go. But dominating a top-10 middleweight and combining that with an 11-fight winning streak—despite what you think about the decisions, they still count—Carmont has legitimized himself as a top-10 guy.

Carmont could make a run at middleweight, but becoming a champion is something entirely different. Carmont has proven that his wrestling is an asset, but overall, against the other wrestlers that fill the middleweight division, Carmont would have to find other avenues for victory. It won’t come easy, but his strength advantage and his time spent training at Tristar with guidance from GSP and Firas Zahabi make this less difficult than it otherwise would be.

At age 31, Carmont still has time. The next few years should be interesting for him, as it is really now make-or-break time for the French middleweight. If Carmont continues to execute his game plan like he did at UFC 165, we could be discussing his title-shot legitimacy in 2014.

Photo: Francis Carmont celebrates victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.