Luke Rockhold vs. Constantinos Phillippou is the next bout set to shake up the middleweight division; both contenders are looking to rebound after losses of different sorts. Rockhold lost to number one contender Vitor Belfort via a spectacular head kick ko, while Phillippou lost to Francis Carmount via a smothering lay and pray snoozer. Both fighters are excellent strikers but Rockhold holds the more impressive resume with wins over Tim Kennedy, Jacare, and Keith Jardine; Phillippou took the MMA route over a pro boxing career and brings a standup game Rockhold has yet to encounter which I think will be the difference. Here's why:
Now that training camps are over and all the physical work is done, the mental aspect of the game takes over. No one but the fighters know what thoughts are going through their minds as their heads hit the pillow tonight. But to fight fans, the underlying question surrounding this fight after a knockout like Rockhold suffered in his last bout, is how well can he respond. It was the question Micheal Bisbing was facing after his loss to Dan Henderson, and GSP (to a lesser degree) after Matt Serra stopped him. Both rebounded well and moved back into title contention; GSP regained his title while Belfort scored a head kick ko over Bisbing for the number one contender slot. Others such as Chuck Liddell and Wandelei Silva suffered multiple knockout losses and were never the same fighter.
Rockhold's chin will be definitely be tested against Phillippou. I would not say that Rockhold is in the same Liddell-Silva, veteran wear and tear boat, but in the same situation GSP and Bisbing were facing, looking to make adjustments to give Phillippou all he can handle in the main event. I predict that Rockhold's camp will look to put Phillippou on his back to exploit the weakness that that many feel Carmount exposed, not only to build up a lead on the scorecards, but in anticipation of the variety of punches, arguably the best, that Phillippou brings to the division. Also because the KO loss is fresh in the back of the mind of Rockhold's camp. I think that Phillippou will counter kicks with sharp punches and get a KO win.