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Costa Philippou refocused going into UFC 165 against Francis Carmont

UFC fighter Costa Philippou prepares to spar during

UFC fighter Costa Philippou prepares to spar during a training session at Ray Longo MMA Academy in Garden City. (Oct. 25, 2012) Credit: James Escher

Costa Philippou saw no joy in waking up and exercising every morning. He found little excitement in hitting pads. And the daily grind of training to be an elite mixed martial arts fighter? Borrr-ring.

"I just felt like the routine every single day, I'd get up, run, do this, do that -- it was always the same old things, the same faces, the same environment," Philippou told Newsday. "It kind of got to me a little bit."

Having to pull out of his May fight against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza because of a cut over the eye suffered during training didn't exactly provide the needed boost to Philippou's psyche.

Then something happened. Something unexpected.

Chris Weidman, his former Serra-Longo teammate, knocked out Anderson Silva and won the UFC middleweight title.

"The fact that I worked with Weidman and watched Weidman from Day One evolving and growing, and he became a champion," Philippou said. "It gives you hope.

"When I saw Silva doing the same things and making fun of his opponents like every other time, and finally somebody shut him up, it kind of made me believe again and have faith again and say, you know what, it's possible. He did it. I can do it. I just have to focus again and keep working. It kind of pushed me a little more."

Enough to rededicate himself to the sport. Enough to power through any remaining personal issues from the past year or two, and move from Queens back to Long Island next week. Enough to make a professional change as well, leaving longtime trainers Ray Longo and Matt Serra for Bellmore Kickboxing Academy and Keith Trimble.

Enough to prepare for UFC 165 on Saturday and a middleweight fight against Francis Carmont. Their bout will be on the pay-per-view portion of the card headlined by Jon Jones' light heavyweight title defense against Alexander Gustafsson.

Both Philippou (12-2, 5-1 UFC) and Carmont (21-7, 5-0) are on five-fight win streaks. Philippou, however, is ranked No. 7 in the UFC's middleweight division, a spot boosted by his third-round TKO of Tim Boetsch last December. At the time, Boetsch was considered a fight or two away from a title shot.

Now, perhaps, Philippou is in a similar position.

"I don't see the title fight yet," Philippou said. "I think, win this fight, God willing, win the next one too, then we gotta talk about a title fight. I don't care if I'm the champion or not. I just want to keep fighting and winning."


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