PHILADELPHIA -- How Constantinos Philippou arrived in the UFC is a story of twists and turns including emigrating from Greece, boxing in the Golden Gloves, toiling in regional MMA promotions, losing in the "Ultimate Fighter" eliminator bout and losing in his UFC debut after taking a fight on seven days' notice.
But here inside the Wells Fargo Center at UFC 133 on Saturday night, after a switch in his opponent and a bump up to the pay-per-view card 11 days ago, Philippou must feel like it's all been worth it.
The 31-year-old middleweight from Massapequa by way of Cyprus won by split decision over Jorge Rivera. Two of the three judges scored the bout, 29-28, for Philippou, who mixed striking and good work in the clinch to control and outlast Rivera.
In the first round, Philippou got a takedown on Rivera (18-9) and worked some body control and a little punching in the clinch.
Later, Philippou landed a big right hand that staggered Rivera, then followed up with ground and pound. Rivera withstood the attack and put together his own little flurry with Philippou's back against the cage.
Rivera took down Philippou (8-2) with a leg trip, but the Ray Longo-trained fighter quickly reversed it into an oma plata submission attempt that ultimately failed but prevented Rivera from mounting any offense in the final minute of the second round.