FYI: I won’t be previewing the preliminary fights for Friday’s UFC on FX show. Put simply, there are too many fights taking place, too much new data to enter into spreadsheets, and not enough time to do it, especially with Strikeforce taking place on Saturday as well. This week, I’ll just be previewing the four main card fights.
The first of which is a middleweight fight between two guys who might be knocking on the door of title contention, Court McGee and Costa Philippou. I haven’t read too much online opinion about this fight, but I might be the only one saying that, as McGee and Philippou generally aren’t on the radar of people thinking about middleweight contenders. I think they should be on the radar, but right now, they’re dots way on the outside. Whoever wins could be closer to a title opportunity than people think.
Court McGee is definitely the better known of the two, as he was the winner of the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter. He hasn’t been terribly active since then, due to injuries, but he is 3-0 in the UFC now, and 14-1 overall. While none of McGee’s UFC opponents have been particularly high-tier, the fact that McGee is undefeated in the UFC helps his chances of being pushed into title contention. Fighters who are 4-0 in the UFC don’t grow on trees, especially in the middleweight division.
At the same time, as I mentioned, McGee’s opponents haven’t exactly been the best the UFC has to offer: Kris McCray, Ryan Jensen, and Dongi Yang. SILVA scores for those three, respectively: 24.41, 27.35, 38.07. Not exactly a murderer’s row. To make matters worse, McGee’s fight against Yang was particularly close. McGee landed slightly more strikes, and one more takedown, but Yang did knock McGee down in the fight. McGee won the decision at the end, and he deserved the decision, but a close call against a low-level UFC fighter like Yang is not a great indicator of future success.
And McGee will be stepping up in competition when he takes on Matt Serra/Ray Longo product Costa Philippou. Unlike McGee, Philippou has lost in the UFC; he lost his UFC debut on short notice against Nick Catone at UFC 128. Since then, Philippou has responded with two wins, including a grueling decision win over Jorge Rivera, and a total clubbing of Jared Hamman. Hamman is a clubbable fighter (not sure if that’s a word), but that doesn’t mean everybody gets the job done against him, and Philippou passed that test with flying colors.
Philippou showed in the Hamman fight that he’s a more than capable boxer in MMA, which is to be expected, as Philippou’s combat sports background is in boxing. He’s also shown some good wrestling skills, particularly upper-body wrestling, as he was able to take down both Rivera and Hamman. If Philippou squares off against a fellow striker, he’s likely to have the wrestling advantage, but if he faces an opponent with a wrestling background, like Nick Catone, then he probably isn’t quite good enough at wrestling to dictate the location of the fight.
That makes this fight interesting, because McGee is a very good wrestler, and therefore is probably better at it than Philippou. My overly simple analysis is this: McGee wants to take Philippou down, and work strikes and submissions on the ground. Philippou wants to stop McGee’s takedowns, and make it a boxing match. Realistically, these guys are both good enough and well-rounded enough that it’s possible for either to win in the other’s domain.
SILVA PREDICTION: COSTA PHILIPPOU (66.91) OVER COURT MCGEE (60.89)
I agree with SILVA here; since McGee had struggles with Dongi Yang, I see him losing in a striking match against Costa Philippou. I also think Philippou’s takedown defense is good enough for him to keep the fight mostly standing, and end up winning by either TKO or decision. Whoever wins, in my opinion, will have built up a strong enough resume to break into title contention. Don’t get me wrong, it will be the fringes of title contention, but either way, this is definitely a fight to look forward to.