Both main event combatants of UFC Fight Night 35 have an opportunity to get back on track and launch themselves into the upper echelon of the UFC middleweight division.
And with former champion Anderson Silva currently out of the picture, they will need to take advantage.
Rockhold, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, was on the wrong end of a Vitor Belfort headkick last May that halted his momentum.
Phillipou, was pounded out by Francis Carmont at UFC 165 in Toronto right in front of this writer. His boxing was nullified by the grappling of the Montreal opponent.
Who will move forward?
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT 35: ROCKHOLD VS PHILIPPOU
COLE “MAGRINHO” MILLER (20-8-0) VS SAM SICILIA (12-3-0)
Andrews: Miller is the more experienced fighter in this matchup. He will enjoy the height and reach advantage and will try to get the fight to the ground. Sicilia needs to keep the fight standing and capitalize on Miller’s questionable chin with his knockout power. The difference is Miller’s experience. He’s fought better fighters previously and will be smart enough to not trade but take the fight where it needs to go.
Andrews Decision: Cole Miller via unanimous decision.
#4 JOHN MORAGA (13-2-0) VS #15 DUSTIN ORTIZ (12-2-0)
Andrews: Moraga is coming off a submission loss to Demetrious Johnson while Ortiz defeated Jose Maria Tome. It’s hard to gauge as Mighty Mouse made Moraga look ordinary, but I think he will bounce back and show why he fought for the title. Ortiz has the cardio, but he will get caught and stopped by Moraga strikes.
Andrews Prediction: John Moraga via TKO.
“SOLDIER OF GOD” YOEL ROMERO (6-1-0) VS DEREK BRUNSON (11-2-0)
Andrews: Brunson shook off a lacklustre performance against Chris Leben to submit Brian Houston in his last fight. Romero has a couple of TKOs on his belt. Romero is the bigger of the two and although I can see Brunson grinding out a unaimous decsion with his wrestling, I see Romero catching him with a knee or strike and finishing him.
Andrews Prediction: Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero via TKO.
#6 TJ DILLASHAW (9-2-0) VS #7 “THE HULK” MIKE EASTON(13-3-0)
Andrews: This is a good matchup. TJ is a fine representative of Team Alpha Male. He will need to take the fight to the ground and wear out the bigger and powerful Easton. Easton is on a 2-fight losing streak, so his motivation should be high. He will catch TJ with some strikes, but Dillashaw should survive them and grind Easton out.
Andrews Prediction: TJ Dillashaw via unanimous decision.
“THE MONSOON” LORENZ LARKIN (14-1-0, 1 NC) VS BRAD TAVARES (11-2-0)
Andrews: Tavares is the more experienced of the two, but both know how to grind out a decision. My gut says Larkin will get off first early and often and snap Tavares’ 4-fight win streak with a TKO in the last round.
Andrews Prediction: Lorenz Larkin via TKO.
#6 LUKE ROCKHOLD (10-2-0) VS #10 COSTAS PHILIPPOU (12-3-0, 1NC)
Andrews: We all know Rockhold likes to submit on the ground and Philippou is a former boxer who prefers the standup. Can Philippou catch Rockhold on the feet? He certainly can. Can Rockhold take Costa to the ground? Of course. But can Costa land before he gets taken to the ground? That is the question. Rockhold got tagged by Belfort and Costa looked like a turtle on his back against Carmont at UFC 165. I think Rockhold grinds out Costa on the ground to a unanimous decision win.
Andrews Prediction: Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision.