After Comeback Win, Tim Boetsch Says Michael Bisping “Has Been On My Agenda For A Long Time”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Not only did Tim Boestch continue his ascension up the middleweight rankings at UFC 144, by stopping former number one contender Yushin Okami, the punishing fighter provided fans with one of the more electrifying comebacks in recent memory. While Boetsch is understandably excited about securing his biggest win to date, he seems less sure about the fight being labelled one of the most dramatic comebacks in UFC history.
“I’ve been watching the video, and I think that first round was a heck of a lot closer than what everybody’s been saying,” said Boetsch (15-4), who after losing the opening two frames to Okami, came out firing in the third round and stopped the middleweight with a series of vicious punches. “If you count the strikes, I was dishing out as many strikes as he was hitting me with, but my face was worse for wear than his was.”
“People have been talking like I was getting destroyed for two rounds, and I agree, the second round didn’t go too good,” Boetsch added. “I went for that guillotine and then got mounted; that was pretty ugly, but I actually wasn’t that disappointed with my performance in the first round…Overall I expected to do better in the first two rounds, but I knew what I was capable of doing and I think I showed that in round three.”
Debate as to how Boetsch faired in the opening round aside, Okami punished the 31 year-old fighter from the top position in the middle frame, and appeared to be in full command of the bout.
“The first thing Matt (Hume) said to me is ‘you need to knock him out,” Boetsch relayed, while recalling what his corner told him prior to round three. “He said ‘you’re not tired, you’re not breathing hard, your heart rate’s fine, go out and be aggressive.’ A light bulb went off in my head. I knew how my body was feeling, I wasn’t breathing hard, I had a full tank of gas, so I knew I just had to go out there and do what I had trained to do. That was to use my footwork, close the distance and hit him with hard shots, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Despite Okami’s dominance in round two, Boetsch quickly had the accomplished vet backpedaling in the third and final round.
“I actually felt him start to fatigue, believe it or not, after he had mounted me,” Boetsch noted. “He started out real strong, but by the end of the round, his punches had nothing on them. That was kind of a mental note to myself that he was in fact getting fatigued. Then, when I hit him with a punch, right before that headkick, I think that’s what wobbled him. I had originally thought that the kick had hurt him, but in hindsight, I think that’s what really got the ball rolling.”
The win also served as a vivid reminder that the powerful wrestler can finish opponents on his feet.
“I’ve done interviews where they’ll say I’m known for being a grinder, wearing people out, and I’ve had to remind them that sure, my last two wins at middleweight went to decision, but before that I won most of my fights by TKO and finishing guys. This isn’t anything new, my power certainly hasn’t gone away; I feel like I’m hitting harder now than I was at light-heavyweight. I think that maybe people had forgotten that I can stop people with my hands.”
Now that Boetsch has scored three straight wins as a middleweight, and become just the 4th man since 2006 to defeat the highly regarded Okami, it’s likely certain that he’ll face another top contender next.
“I’d like to think my next fight will be against whoever’s next in line to determine who will face the winner of the Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen fight,” Boetsch said. “Definitely I’d like to take on a top three fighter; I want that fight, I want to take them out.”
“(Michael) Bisping’s name has been on my agenda for a long time,” Boetsch added. “Even back when we were at light-heavyweight he was someone I wanted to fight. I think he did a heck of a job against Chael and he’s certainly up there as a contender…It will be interesting to see who they come with, and whoever they do, I’ll be ready.”
Photo via Twitter / @TimBoetsch