Constantinos Philippou stepped into the cage at UFC 155 an underdog. He exited triumphantly, having disposed of top 10-ranked Tim Boetsch. The former boxer let his hands do the talking, as he forced intervention from the referee after hurling a load of bombs at a downed, bloodied and broken Boetsch in the final frame of their 15-minute affair.
For Costa, it was a career defining moment, and one that now puts him in the top-10 mix at middleweight.
Philippou now rides a five-fight streak inside the Octagon. His defensive grappling has looked quite impressive, his hands are heavy, quick and accurate and he’s quite durable. “The Barbarian” showed up last night looking to derail the surging Serra-Longo Fight Team rep, and he showed it in the first round as he applied solid pressure and had Philippou a bit uncertain of himself.
However, after injuring his hand in the opening frame and subsequently suffering a nasty cut on the forehead that came after an incidental collision of melons, Boetsch’s confidence wavered. Costa pounced, and his aggressive shift led to a brutal beat-down.
So where does Costa now stand? Who should this newly minted contender tangle with next? Is there any hope of Philippou fighting his way into a top contender slot?
I’ll tell you, Costa is sitting pretty right now. He just disposed of a top-five (arguably) contender, and a very relevant middleweight bout fast approaches. Vitor Belfort will meet Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7, and Costa might very well find himself battling the loser, or victor, of that fight. Chris Weidman, who’s been battling injuries as of late, also has no current opponent or return date solidified.
Smart money says no more fringe top-10 battles for Constantinos.
A meeting with Chris Weidman, should Chris not be offered a title fight with Anderson Silva next, feels all but predestined. However, if Weidman finds himself toeing the line with another contender, expect Philippou to wage war with the winner of the Belfort/Bisping bout.
The only other option that sounds remotely near as intriguing, and would help to move the division forward, is a meeting with Hector Lombard. The mad minds at the UFC may have designs on a fast-tracked title shot for Lombard, and if they feel he’s got the goods to take Philippou out, we might see this proposition become reality.
In truth, that might just be the best bet for each man. A win over Lombard would ingrain Costa’s stance as a top dog, elite competitor. A win over Costa for Lombard would prove he’s capable of disposing of a powerful, hungry boxer who’s not only ranked, but dangerous at all times.
There are only so many options for this developing stud, and every single one of those options looks thoroughly appealing. Costa’s future is bright, and we’re about to see how he’ll fare when it comes time to challenge the absolute best of the 185-pound division.
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