Tim Boetsch: Yushin Okami Won’t Like “Being in the Cage With” Me
By Kelsey Mowatt
While often a fighter’s decision to change weight divisions is accompanied by expectations of success, the challenges that come with cutting the necessary weight or adjusting to a new class of opponents have been well documented. So far, however, Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch’s decision to drop from light-heavyweight to middleweight has gone according to plan. So much so, that after scoring back-to-back wins over Kendall Grove and most recently Nick Ring, the powerful 30 year-old vet has worked his way into a bout with the former number one contender, Yushin Okami.
“I certainly didn’t think so,” said Boetsch (14-4), when asked if he expected a bout with a top ranked competitor like Okami, less than one year after his first middleweight bout against Grove. “I thought I would move up the ladder a little bit but I didn’t realize that I would be this close to the top so quickly. It was a big surprise but I’m up for the challenge.”
“I think it’s going to be a good test,” Boetsch added about the UFC 144 bout, which will take place February 26th, in Saitama, Japan. “I think it’s going to be a great fight and I think I match up really well against Yushin. I’m not the kind of person he’s going to like being in the cage with.”
Of course, much of Okami’s Octagon success has come through utilizing his size and strength to control and punish his opponents. It will be interesting to see, however, whether the accomplished Judoka will be able to do so against Boetsch, who has earned praise for doing the same.
“That was something that my manager looked at; ‘how does Yushin win?” Boetsch told FCF, while discussing Okami’s abilities and how the Japanese fighter matches up against him. “He grinds people out and uses his size and strength to control where the fight goes, and if you let him settle in, outscore you point wise, he’s going to beat you. But I don’t let people pick away at me or slow things down. I want to keep things fast paced, I want to bang, and if he wants to wrestle I’m going to stuff his shots.”
“Hopefully we can get some big throws going in there as well,” Boetsch furthered about Okami (26-6), who will be fighting for the first time since he was stopped by champion Anderson Silva in August. “He’s known for being a Judo guy, throwing people around, so I’m excited to see the match-up on that level. I’m just looking to make it an exciting fight and I think his pace is slower than mine.”
While many of Okami’s ten UFC wins have come through his grappling and ground-and-pound game, the 30 year old has also demonstrated significant improvements in his striking.
“He’s one of the bigger middleweights so there’s going to be a range issue that I’ll have to deal with,” said Boetsch. “That’s something I had to deal with in the past when I fought Kendall Grove, and I don’t think there’s anybody out there more rangy than Kendall. I think the UFC has set this up well for me as I’m getting well accustomed to fighting taller guys. I definitely see the feet as an area where I might find some openings.”
Not only will UFC 144 present Boetsch an opportunity to defeat one of the world’s top middleweights, but it also will mark the first time that the Matt Hume trained fighter will compete in Japan.
“Initially I was really excited, but then I remembered that this is a fight, and it’s not really like a fun trip where you’re going to all these different places,” Boetsch noted. “Especially for me; the week that we’re there I’m pretty much miserable making weight, I just feel terrible that week, but certainly on different terms I’d love to go there and hang out. I’m looking forward to going there and performing though. MMA is such a tradition there and when I started watching Pride, I always wanted to be there someday. I’m very excited to go there and put on a great performance.”