Tim Boetsch was preparing for the biggest fight of his life at UFC 155, a potential number one contender bout against top middleweight Chris Weidman, but he had the rug pulled out from under him with the news that "The All-American" was injured and out of the fight.
With the stakes lowered, Boetsch accepted a bout against New Jersey-based boxer Constantinos Philippou who enters the fight on an equal four-fight winning streak in the UFC middleweight division.
While a title shot may no longer be on the line, Boetsch is still presented with a tremendous opportunity to score his third straight high profile victory on the big stage in the UFC and shutting down one of the best prospects in the division would still be a pretty significant accomplishment.
"The Barbarian" will be throwing down this weekend (Dec. 29, 2012) on the UFC 155 main card and he spoke about the fight during a guest appearance on Bloody Elbow Radio as well as his thoughts on the Hector Lombard fight in retrospect and how he can avoid experiencing a letdown with less on the line.
Check it out:
Matt Bishop: Costa Philippou is taking this fight in place of Chris Weidman on short notice. He had a fight himself that fell through and he's a guy that needs a breakout perormance at middleweight. How do you size him up?
Tim Boetsch: I remember watching him fight a few times in the UFC and thinking, "Hey, this guy's dangerous." He knows what he's doing. He's a good boxer. When I heard he stepped up and took the fight I was very interested. He's been involved in some good fights and I think our styles match up pretty well. As you know, I'm not afraid to stand and trade punches with anybody. I look at this as an exciting fight and Philippou's no joke. He's a real deal fighter like you said and one breakout fight and he's right in the mix. He's definitely not someone to be underestimated, but I don't think I'm going to allow him to have his breakout fight on the 29th. I think he's gonna find that down the line with somebody else.
Matt Bishop: With both of you entering the bout on four fight winning streaks, do you think the winner of this fight puts themselves in contention for a middleweight title shot?
Tim Boetsch: Honestly I don't think this fight carries that type of weight. I think a Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch would have been able to decide a number one contender. I think this fight certainly will put us up the ladder a bit higher but it won't be the definitive number one contender fight. It'll be a good fight, but I don't think it'll be the fight that determines who the top guy is.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With that said, you had the Weidman fight scheduled and everyone considered that a very, very big fight and then he gets hurt and you get Philippou. Was there any letdown there? I'm sure you're fine now but when you got the news, was there a letdown?
Tim Boetsch: Absolutely. Initially I was very letdown that Chris was unable to fight but honestly, that was just me being selfish and wanting that number one contender spot. When you take a step back and look, Chris has had a very rough go of it the past few months with the hurricane tearing through his house and wrecking the place and now he's dealing with the injury with no telling how long he'll be out. My thoughts go out to him and I hope 2013 goes better for him than the end of 2012 did. I hope for a speedy recovery so he can get back in the ring soon and I can get that fight in the near future so we can figure out who that number one guy is.
Matt Bishop: As you said, Philippou is a stand-up guy so what things have you been working on in refining your stand-up to get it ready to go for him?
Tim Boetsch: Well even though he's very good, throws good combinations and has tight boxing, he still leaves openings. There's quite a few opportunities actually standing that we're looking to take advantage of. It's all about movement and creating angles to exploit those opportunities. Taking advantage of them has been a big part of this training camp. Looking at paper, I've got a strong background in wrestling and he's a boxer so that could come into play. I never want to leave my takedown ability too far behind and that's something I can fall back on. I feel confident in all areas heading into this fight and it's going to be a great fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Watching Philippou, it almost seems like he's patient to a fault at times with his striking. Do you think being more aggressive can counter his occasional hesitancy?
Tim Boetsch: Absolutely. I think one of my greatest attributes is being able to bring a lot of pressure to my opponents and an amount of pressure they're not used to either in the practice room or in previous fights. I know Costa is a pretty good counter striker and he actually prefers to be a counter striker. I think the fact that I will bring so much pressure will not allow him to get into his comfort zone where he's getting his counter strikes off.
Matt Bishop: Let's take a trip down memory lane and look back at your fight against Hector Lombard. Reflecting on that experience now, how do you feel about your performance?
Tim Boetsch: Honestly, it was subpar but I went in and got the win, ended his win streak and exposed the huge hype that was surrounding him. It was a success but I would have liked to have finished him and really cemented that I handily beat him because that's in my mind how I would have wanted it to go. So I let myself down in that fight by not establishing that dominant win but at the end of the day I got the W and that's what's going to be remembered in the history books so I got that important part done.
Matt Bishop: What was it you think you could have done better in that fight that you're looking to improve upon for this fight?
Tim Boetsch: Well obviously every fight is different and the means to victory are different for every fight and the ways to train and execute the gameplan are different. What we prepared for against Hector was for a guy bullrushing forward and being super explosive. I was working on a lot of my counterstrikes which would play off of him coming forward which in that fight never happened for whatever reason, whether he was used to having an opponent that wouldn't just stand right in front of him or whatever. I never really saw the aggressive Hector Lombard that I prepared to fight and that really threw me off. In hindsight, I wish I would have switched the gameplan in the middle of the fight and gone after him hard. I believe I could have finished him had I done that.
Matt Bishop: Do you feel better about that win after what he did to Rousimar Palhares last Friday?
Tim Boetsch: I do and I don't. I wish people had understood the gameplan to beat Hector Lombard based on my performance. Palhares didn't do that. He stood in front of him and you saw what happened. I was hoping to see a bit more movement and that people had taken notes from what I did, but I didn't see it. I'm hoping that people take notes as he faces tougher competition that understand how to execute a gameplan, he's gonna run into the same problems he had with me.
Matt Bishop: When you get opponents changed on you, do you feel like you wasted the training camp spent preparing for the other guy?
Tim Boetsch: Well fortunately I've got the wizard Matt Hume in my corner. He's a mastermind and he's got long term goals set in place for my training. Even though I might be preparing for a specific opponent, I've got a longterm plan so our training camps aren't specifically focused on beating one opponent. We're constantly developing as mixed martial artists here and looking at the big picture. I don't think of any time spent working with Matt Hume as wasted time. I learn something new every day and gain new insights into the sport every time I'm in a training situation with him.
Matt Bishop: When you envision this fight against Costa Philippou in your mind, how do you see it going?
Tim Boetsch: I believe there's gonna be a brief feeling-out process in the first round, about a minute and a half and then one of us is going to decide that it's time to turn it on and it's gonna get very explosive, very high energy. I'm looking for this fight to probably be stopped in the middle of second round due to a TKO via the Barbarian. That's what I'm looking to do.
You can follow Tim Boetsch on Twitter @TimBoetsch.