Ever wondered what would happen if you stuck a former light-heavyweight contender in the Octagon with a former welterweight champion? Well, take one look at tonight’s (June 25) 188-pound catchweight fight between Tim Boetsch, the one-time light-heavyweight, and Johny Hendricks, the one-time welterweight, and you’ll know. You’ll get your answer from the image of the two men stood near one another and you’ll get your answer from the way Boetsch dispatched Hendricks with a head-kick and a series of uppercuts 46 seconds into round two.
Ironically, the fight was fought at a catchweight not because Boetsch struggled getting his sizeable frame down to the 185-pound middleweight limit, but because Hendricks did. A man with a history of weight struggles, ‘Bigg Rigg’ made another mess of things on the scales, weighing 188-pounds, and the fight immediately took on an altogether different complexion. Now people were wondering if Hendricks had taken it seriously. Now they questioned the quality of his preparation.
His opponent Boetsch, however, is nothing if not consistent and reliable. Capable of pulling off an upset, as he’s shown in the past, Boetsch was also determined to make amends for what he felt was a poor performance back in February, when submitted inside a round by Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. This, for him, was a big fight and opportunity. It was a chance to claim one of the biggest scalps of his 11-year pro MMA career.
Tonight in Oklahoma, Boetsch certainly fought like the man with focus and purpose. He started proceedings on the back foot, as he often does, and used his length to spike Hendricks with leg kicks and teep kicks from afar. This created distance and allowed him the chance to get his timing down before unloading heavier artillery.
Hendricks, meanwhile, walked through a lot of these leg attacks and looked to get through with big left hands – his pet punch – and surprise right hooks around the side. He marauded forward with abandonment and initiated a number of exciting exchanges with Boetsch in round one. Tit for tat for the most part, Hendricks would land decent shots on the inside – using his smaller size to sneak up on Boetsch – but it was Boetsch who appeared to possess the heavier hands and strength advantage. When he landed, the impact was clear.
In round two, Boetsch, 36, switched from laying foundations with leg-kicks to throwing one up high. The shot selection confused Hendricks and the kick caught him around the side of the head, rocking him, buckling his legs. This presented Boetsch with an opening and the chance to wade into the former UFC champion – and he didn’t need to be asked twice. He cradled Hendricks up against the fence, held his head in his left hand and then proceeded to achieve a stoppage win via a stream of right uppercuts thrown with speed and intent.
“I was very excited when I got the call to fight Johny,” said Boetsch, 21-11, afterwards. “I knew I’d have to really step up my training, fighting a former world champion. You don’t get a safe feeling being in the cage with him. That left hand just missed my face a couple of times. I knew I definitely didn’t want to take that. But it was such an honour to fight him – a great guy.
“In my last fight I deviated from the plan a little bit and it cost me big time. Tonight I made sure I stayed disciplined and did exactly what I trained to do. You saw the results.
“I was going to the body and leg early in the fight and I got a slight reaction and sent it high. It was perfect.”