Costa Philippou fought seven times over the past two years, so he's used to keeping a busy schedule. But the middleweight has yet to step foot into the cage in 2013, and despite the UFC's hectic second-half calendar, his name remains in limbo.
So if it was up to him, when would Philippou like to fight next?
"As soon as possible," the New Yorker flatly answered on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I wanted to fight in Boston. That didn't happen. I know there's a show in Toronto on September 21st. My last fight was in Canada. The fans are great over there. It's a short flight for me, I don't have to change anything. I would love to fight in Toronto.
"I'm expecting a call. They've got to figure out who I'm supposed to fight. Just give me somebody at this point. I don't really give a s--t if it's a big name, small name, whatever."
From the outset, Philippou's frustration is obvious. It doesn't help that the only fight he's been linked to thus far this year -- UFC on FX 8's co-main event against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza -- fell apart just weeks prior to the event due to a last-second training accident.
"In May I suffered a deep cut on my left eyebrow during a wrestling session. I received 15 stitches and apparently the cut was too deep. It went all the way down to the bone, and the doctor had to put stitches inside," Philippou explained. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to go to Brazil. Now I'm healthy and I'm waiting for an opponent, so I don't know what's going on."
Since then Philippou has stayed in the headlines, just not for ideal reasons. In late-May, he surprised many by splitting with his longtime team at Serra-Longo. The divorce was reportedly on good terms, but speculation circulated that Philippou left for Bellmore Kickboxing Academy as a precursor to an eventual bout against fellow Serra-Longo middleweight Chris Weidman.
Philippou insists that's not the case. He says the switch had nothing to do with Weidman, but rather, he simply needed a change. And though Philippou wasn't surprised to see Weidman steal away Anderson Silva's middleweight title at UFC 162, he was extremely surprised by the manner in which it happened.
"I thought he was going to submit him by the third round," Philippou said. "I honestly believe by the third round he was going to control him on the ground -- he has amazing control -- and he was going to come up with a submission. But a knockout? I don't think anybody saw that coming. Chris is strong, he's long, and I think that's where Anderson Silva made a mistake. He didn't realize how long Chris is, and he was leaning back, doing the same thing that he's done with everybody. It worked in the past, but against somebody with Chris' reach, it didn't work. So now he has to come back and figure out a different way."
As for his own climb up the ladder, Philippou tries to stay honest with himself. After quietly racking up a five straight wins, Philippou believes he's two fights away from a guaranteed title shot.
In an ideal world, the first of those two fights would've arrived against Michael Bisping. Philippou and the brash Brit were briefly linked to an event in the fall, however nothing ever materialized. Instead, Bisping landed in a bout against Mark Munoz, and the decision didn't sit well with Philippou.
"He claims that I'm a new fighter or I'm not a big enough name, or whatever the case may be. But they had me ranked higher than Munoz," Philippou argued. "I don't know why, I said I was willing to go to his hometown. I'd go to Manchester and fight him. I said I'd wait for him to heal, because he had the surgery or whatever, and I'd fight him. I have five wins in the middleweight division in a row. He never had five wins in a row at middleweight."
Not surprisingly, getting passed over yet again only increased Philippou's frustration with the UFC's matchmaking process.
"When you do it the right way, the respectful way, and you tell him, ‘Yes, I respect you as a fighter. You're a great name, a great fighter, and I'd like to face you,' everybody ignores you," Philippou sighed. "So I [guess I] should get out in public and start pressing the guys, pick a fight. I don't get it. That's not me.
"I'm 33 years old. I'm not that old, but the way I think, I'm kind of old-school and I want to let my fighting do the talking. But it doesn't work like that anymore," Philippou continued.
"I don't understand why we need to get personal and cut each other down. So I should call him a coward, I should call him a b---h, and we should start like that? I don't get it. But if it comes down to that, yeah, I'm willing to do that to get what I want."
With Bisping out of the picture, Philippou has been forced to set his sights on the next best option -- Vitor Belfort. Philippou is 100-percent onboard with the match-up, but only under one condition.
"We can do the fight anywhere but Brazil," Philippou explained.
"If I can prevent him from using TRT, why not? I know that some fighters get an exemption. It's a technicality that they say it's legal as long as by the fight time your limit is at a certain number, you're okay. But what happens is two or three months before, they load up, they go through the roof with the hormones and everything, and then a couple of weeks before the fight they drop to the legal level. I don't think it's fair. Either legalize it for everybody and give everybody an exemption to use it, or ban it altogether.
"It's just that, why does he always want to fight in Brazil? There must be a reason."