UFC FIGHT NIGHT 35: ROCKHOLD VS. PHILIPPOU Date: Jan. 15, 2014 Location: The Arena at Gwinnett Center — Duluth, Georgia Broadcast: FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet 360 UFC Middleweight Luke Rockhold (-405) Profile: Luke Rockhold (10-2) came into the UFC as the final Strikeforce middleweight champion. He was a force in the San Jose based promotion, winning nine of his 10 fights there, including defeating Jacare Souza for the middleweight title, and defending it against TIm Kennedy and Keith Jardine. Rockhold has sharp hands and a deep gas tank, which has allowed the 29-year-old surfer to overwhelm his opponents until they give up the rear naked choke, a submission he’s won with four times. Eight of Rockhold’s 10 wins overall have been decided in the first round, as he has submitted six of his opponents and knocked out two. When Strikeforce folded back in January of 2013, he anxiously awaited his opportunity to compete in the UFC, but his welcoming party was a spinning kick to the face courtesy of Vitor Belfort. With that loss behind him, Rockhold is looking to right his ship, get back into championship form and hop right back into the mix that is the middleweight top ten with a win over Costa Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35. UFC Middleweight Costa Philippou (+285) Profile: Following an unsuccessful attempt at making a team on The Ultimate Fighter 11, Constantinos Philippou (12-3) was still able to make it to the UFC as a late replacement to fight Nick Catone at UFC 128. Although he lost his promotional debut via unanimous decision, the Greek Serra BJJ-trained fighter has gone on to carve a place in the UFC top ten middleweight rankings. He has beat Jorge Rivera, TUF 11 winner Court McGee and Ricki Fukuda and, most impressively, Tim Boetsch. Philippou has natural, heavy hands, but was significantly outgrappled by Francis Carmont at UFC 165. This 34-year-old may have a little left in the gas tank, and that could be seen when he takes on Luke Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 35. Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Rockhold a -405 betting favorite (bet $405 to win $100), while Philippou opened as a +285 underdog (bet $100 to win $285) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. On paper, this is a very bad stylistic matchup for Philippou because Rockhold is not only a better wrestler, but he’s also a better overall striker, too. So, really, it seems like Philippou’s only way to win this fight is a puncher’s chance, and that’s why he opened up as a +285 dog here. Yes, Rockhold got KOed in brutal fashion by Vitor Belfort, but considering how good Belfort looked in 2013, does that loss really look all that bad in hindsight? Not to me, and considering how well Rockhold uses his wrestling and how poor Philippou looked against Francis Carmont, and it’s just a terrible matchup for Philippou in general, and in my opinion the -405 price tag on Rockhold is fair, and I expect him to win this fight inside the distance.