In his last fight, Costa Philippou showed he's more than just a former professional boxer who turned to mixed martial arts. The Massapequa resident and Cyrus native showed improved takedown defense in beating Court McGee last March.
On Saturday at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, Philippou displayed even better takedown defense. He also brought his superior striking skills into the octagon, along with some late-round rage to beat middleweight Riki Fukuda by unanimous decision. Two judges scored it 30-27, and one judge scored it 29-28 as Philippou earned his fourth straight victory.
The rage came in the third round, after a second groin kick, which also happened to follow up a double eye poke. Philippou screamed in the middle of the octagon and unleashed a serious flurry of punches. He landed several punches, but didn't finish Fukuda (18-6).
With 1:45 left, Philippou (11-2, 1 NC) suffered a double eye poke as he moved in and Fukuda threw a straight left. Philippou went down quickly from the poke and could be heard screaming "Oh my God" as he winced in pain. It took him several minutes to be able to open his eyes.
He was examined by a ringside doctor. "He can move it around," the doctor told referee Steve Mazzagatti. "He did get poked. See if it clears up."
It cleared up.
What also cleared up was Philippou's skill set. Yes, he can stuff a takedown. He did it every time to Fukuda. The one close attempt by Fukuda came in the first round. He shot in and got Philippou to to one knee up against the cage early in the first round. Philippou never went to his back, and within a minute, he was back on his feet throwing punches and creating a small cut under Fukuda's left eye.