Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch squared off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 172 last night (Sat., April 26, 2014) from Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
No. 5-ranked Rockhold came in on the heels of a first round destruction over Costa Philippou in the main event of UFC Fight Night 35 in January, his first UFC win. Considered one of the finest 185-pound fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA), Rockhold was looking to erase the bad memories of his UFC-debuting knockout loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8.
He had to get past Boetsch first.
"Barbarian" was most recently seen winning a highly controversial decision over C.B. Dollaway at UFC 166, his first victory after dropping two straight to Mark Munoz and Philippou. No. 13-ranked Boetsch had a golden opportunity to get right back in the mix by defeating former Strikeforce champion Rockhold.
In the end, however, he never even had a chance, becoming the latest victim on the motivated Rockhold's run toward a coveted UFC title shot.
The fight began with Boetsch going for an early takedown, dragging the fight to the ground with a single leg. Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Rockhold sprung his trap and went for a triangle choke from the top. He rained down with some elbows, as Boetsch had nowhere to go. Rockhold sought an arm and locked on a kimura, earning the tap in a wholly destructive and one-sided first round victory.
Rockhold earned his second straight UFC finish, continuing his intense focus on righting the wrongs of getting knocked out in his promotional debut.
It's clear that the former champion is ready for a huge middleweight fight. A rematch against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, who Rockhold beat for the Strikeforce belt, would be an absolutely blockbuster bout for him; but a rematch with Belfort, who will reportedly be returning after passing a bevy of Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC)-required drug tests, would be even bigger.
Rockhold called out for that exact bout in his post-fight interview, also throwing Michael Bisping's name into the mix if "Phenom" isn't willing to sign on.
However, he may have to wait longer than he would have liked for either bout, as Rockhold apparently injured his toe in defeating Boetsch, something that could keep him on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
We'll have to wait and see, but one thing is clear: Rockhold is becoming a force in UFC after a big setback in his first Octagon bout.
For Boetsch, the loss is the latest in a long string of disheartening performances. He gained recent wins over Dollaway and Hector Lombard, but if not for the benefit of highly favorable judging, he could have just as easily lost five in a row at this point. He showed nothing in the way of offense save for a takedown that obviously played right into Rockhold's hands, and he was ultimately submitted for it.
There aren't many top-level fights left in UFC for Boetsch.
If he does get another chance in the Octagon, he had better capitalize. Time is running out for him to stay relevant in the ever-evolving and ultra-talented UFC middleweight arena.
Luke Rockhold dominated an over-matched Tim Boetsch with an impressive display of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He injured his toe in the process, but is the former Strikeforce champion ready for a rematch with Vitor Belfort upon his return?