On Saturday, UFC 133 features an electrifying middleweight clash between striking specialists Jorge “El Conquistador” Rivera and “Costa” Philippou at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Early lines have Rivera narrowly favored, meaning oddsmakers value El Conquistador’s experience and grit over Philippou’s youth and skill. This is Rivera’s 14th UFC fight but just Philippou’s second, and his first middleweight bout. Odds.
This could be the final match for Rivera, a 39-year-old native of Massachusetts. He is an aggressive hitter whose matches rarely go the distance. He may try to battle on the mat in this one, since he’s the more versatile fighter of the two. We recommend the unheralded underdog PHILIPPOU. Originally from Cyprus, Costa is an unknown in the UFC world. He lost his only UFC fight as a late replacement and out of his weight class. He has the power to simply out-hit Rivera if he waits for the right opportunities to strike.
Rivera (18-8) is coming off a loss to Michael Bisping, though the match turned on what appeared to be an illegal knee from Bisping that could have easily given Rivera a DQ victory. El Conquistador had won his previous three UFC battles, most recently a TKO domination of Nate Quarry in March 2010. Though Rivera says his favorite fighting technique is “whichever one wins a fight for me,” his strength is as a striker—13 of his 18 wins have come via knockout. Since his opponent here is also very strong as a standup attacker, Rivera may take the match to the mat. Rivera has hinted that this could be his UFC swansong. Scores.
Philippou (7-2, 1 NC) had a seven-fight win streak going before losing his UFC debut to Nick Catone in a catchweight matchup (Cantone was in a higher weight class). Costa is also an aggressive and heavy hitter, coming from a boxing background with over 80 boxing matches on his record. With great footwork, quickness, and power in both hands, Philippou can hang with any fighter in a stand-up battle. He’s still green when it comes to wrestling and grappling. Relative youth may be on his side, as he doesn’t have the MMA wounds and scars that have Rivera contemplating retirement. This should be a hard-hitting battle, with Philippou a strong upset candidate if it turns into a striking match. Sports scores.
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