The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 66 is a three-round bout between Gegard Mousasi and Costas Philippou. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Mousasi is a -600 favorite (bet $600 to win $100) while Philippou is a +450 underdog (bet $100 to win $450). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Mousasi at -555 and Philippou at +335 and so far the money has come in on the favorite Mousasi. Overall I agree with the line movement as I favor Mousasi to win this fight. Here’s why. Mousasi (36-5-2) is one of the top-10 middleweights in the UFC. The 29-year-old Irani-Dutchman is 3-2 in the UFC with wins over Dan Henderson, Mark Munoz and Ilir Latifi with losses to Lyoto Machida and Ronaldo Souza. He also has wins over Souza, Mark Hunt, Ovince St-Preux and Hector Lombard from earlier in his career. Mousasi is one of the most well-rounded and dangerous fighters at 185lbs. He has excellent standup, a great submission game, and most of the time has the wrestling to dictate where his fights take place. He has 36 wins in his career, and 31 of those have come by stoppage. He is coming off of a devastating knockout win over Henderson in his last fight, admitting before the bout he was highly motivated to get back in the win column after being subbed by Souza. When he’s on his game, Mousasi is one of the best in the world. He’s extremely talented anywhere the fight goes, and when he’s fighting non-elite talent he is nearly unbeatable. He is taking on a solid middleweight in Philippou this weekend, and it’s a fight that on paper he has many advantages in, and that’s why he’s such a big favorite heading into the bout. Philippou (13-4, 1 NC) is one of the top middleweights in the Octagon as well. The 35-year-old Cypriot is 6-3 in the UFC with wins over Lorenz Larkin, Tim Boetsch, Jared Hamman, Court McGee, Riki Fukuda and Jorge Rivera with losses to Francis Carmont, Nick Catone, and Luke Rockhold. Philippou is primarily a boxer, and he definitely has heavy hands as his seven knockout wins attest to. He brutally knocked out Larkin in his last fight in upset fashion, proving just how dangerous he can be when he’s on. However, he is a limited fighter as he only uses his hands, and more diverse strikers can beat him as Rockhold showed. As well, his takedown defence has been suspect in the past, with Catone and Carmont both grinding him on the mat to decision wins. Philipou is a solid fighter, no doubt, but he’s more of a gatekeeper-type rather than a true contender, and going up against a stud like Mousasi, it’s a dangerous matchup for Philippou, and one he will likely have to win by knockout, which would be easy to do against a guy with an iron chin like Mousasi. I like Philippou as a fighter but this is a difficult matchup for him. Although Mousasi doesn’t have as much pure knockout power as Philippou, he has a more diverse striking attack and he’s more technical. In the grappling department Mousasi has a massive edge, both in takedowns and in submissions. The only way Philippou can win this fight is if he catches Mousasi on the chin and KOs him, but Mousasi has excellent strike avoidance and he’s never once been knocked out in his career. Therefore, I think it’s pretty unlikely Philippou catches him, and if he doesn’t, I don’t see how he wins this fight. If it stays on the feet Mousasi will pick him apart with his jab and outpoint him, and if the fight hits the mat Mousasi can submit Philippou, and probably make it look easy doing so. Everything is adding up to a Mousasi win here. The moneyline is quite high, but he should win and I can’t blame anyone who parlays him. Also, take a look for the Mousasi -3.5 points handicap when that’s released, as I believe it has an excellent chance of cashing.
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