The topic of teammates fighting each other is, for the most part, a bit of an awkward subject in the world of mixed martial arts.
From gym-to-gym, fighter-to-fighter, the policies and opinions regarding teammates competing against one another varies.
For UFC middleweight Constantinos Philippou, who trains out of Serra-Longo Fight Team in New York alongside top 185-pound contender Chris Weidman, the thought of fighting his friend and teammate is not one that sits in the forefront of his mind.
“Chris Weidman obviously, you see the guy, the guy is a phenom.” Philippou told FightCove.com. “He had recently an elbow surgery, he actually started training and he feels great – I don’t see a change in him. He’s stronger than ever; he’s even stronger now…that guy will be a champion one day. You just have to give him a chance.”
“If Chris Weidman is the champion and I’m the No. 2 contender and we have to fight, we’re going to figure it out. We’re not going to fight [for the belt]? Come on. But if it’s not necessary, like if he beats everybody in the division, I beat everybody in the division and we’re the last two, then why not? But come on, it’s a big ‘if’.”
Philippou is extremely humble about his current place in the middleweight division and is aware Weidman sits a few tiers above him in the rankings. While Philippou isn’t the first fighter to say he would only fight a teammate if it were for UFC gold, the 32-year-old is not keen on it and says if the situation arose, he would be a happy No. 2 while letting Weidman hold the gold.
“Chris is in a different level right now,” Philippou said. “I’m hoping eventually I’ll climb up the ladder and beat a couple of more opponents then facing Chris is the last thing going through my mind. Even if nobody beats Chris and he’s the number one, I wouldn’t mind being number two for the rest of my life, how’s that? Being number two in the world? That’s not bad.”
Philippou obviously has high praise for his teammate; Costas, along with Weidman and a significant portion of the mixed martial arts community, were all hoping to see Weidman be granted a chance to fight for the UFC middleweight championship. However, 185-pound title-holder Anderson Silva said he has no interest in the fight and Weidman claimed “The Spider” was ducking a fight with him.
While Philippou believes Weidman should be fighting Silva next instead of Tim Boetsch – the Cyprus-born fighter thinks Silva and the UFC can’t deny Weidman his title shot forever.
“Listen, in the UFC it’s not just about fighting, it’s business too,” Philippou explained. “I don’t know if he’s ducking him or if he’s afraid of him, but I don’t think anybody’s afraid of anybody. Anderson Silva’s been fighting his whole life and the same thing as Weidman; he’s been competing his whole life. Maybe not in MMA but in wrestling and any other martial art. I don’t think they’re afraid of each other, I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
“What I know is if Weidman keeps winning, eventually he’s (Anderson) not going to be able to deny the fact that Weidman should fight Anderson Silva. Because if he beats Tim Boetsch, and they still say no, then he beats the next guy, then what? They’re not going to be able to say no. So that’s what Weidman is doing right now. He’s going to focus on his Tim Boetsch fight, hopefully get through that opponent – he’s a great opponent Tim Boetsch – and then after that, I don’t know…”
Philippou is currently 4-1 in the UFC with four consecutive victories. He next competes at UFC 154 on Nov. 17 where he will fight Nick Ring on the televised preliminary portion of the card, which airs on FX in the United States and Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.