Of all the crazy fights that happened last night (Feb. 25, 2012) at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan, only one of them had Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) commentator Joe Rogan marking out like a maniac, and that was the Middleweight match up between Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami.
Okami was coming off a failed attempt at the title and he looked sharp early on, crushing Boetsch over the course of the first two rounds as both Rogan and Goldberg were weaving a nice narrative of his brilliant response to the loss at the hands of Anderson Silva.
But then Boetsch had to go and pull off by far the biggest comeback victory of 2012 thus far.
So how did "The Barbarian" pull it off? And what happens next for both talented 185-pounders?
Follow me after the jump for our Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami UFC 144 post-fight review and analysis:
Early on, it was the Yushin Okami show.
"Thunder" danced around Boetsch, repeatedly scoring with jabs and straight punches which were not only landing, but they busted up the AMC Pankration fighter's face. Boetsch even admitted that one of the straight jabs even had him feeling woozy for a bit in his post-fight interview.
If it wasn't bad enough that Boetsch was outstruck badly in the first round, the second round was even worse as Okami scored an early takedown and pummeled him with ground and pound for the majority of the five minute frame.
He had now lost a round both via striking and grappling. While Boetsch did offer a few nice push kicks and front kicks, he wasn't really connecting with anything else and he knew it.
Down two rounds to none, he knew he needed a finish, not just to stick to the gameplan and boy did he!
"The Barbarian" came out a man possessed at the start of the third round, attacking Okami with a wide variety of strikes which included a beautiful head kick and a large volume of punches coming from different angles.
Some of the strikes got through and stunned the former title challenger, and Boetsch poured it on, unloading with a flurry of blows along the fence and then putting a stamp on it by pinning Okami's head with his left hand while dishing out some of the most awkwardly brutal uppercuts of all time. The final uppercut sent Okami reeling to the canvas where Boetsch followed up with some ground and pound before the ref had seen enough.
Seeing the first two rounds, you'd have never believed Tim Boetsch was capable of something like that, but thankfully his conditioning held up and he was able to catch Okami napping to score the improbable victory.
For Yushin Okami, this loss has to be especially devastating. He was five minutes away from a dominant return performance to the Octagon and putting the loss to Anderson Silva behind him. His striking was better than ever, his grappling was on point and he looked terrific. He just couldn't finish the job. Hopefully, this loss isn't too discouraging as he was doing so many things right for the bout.
Depending on how slowly the UFC wants to bring him back, I could see Okami facing anyone from Michael Bisping, Demian Maia or Aaron Simpson next.
For Tim Boetsch, that was exactly what someone needs to do when they're down on the cards. He was the paradigm of showcasing a sense of urgency and coming out with a mindset of "get the finish no matter what." Time and time again, we see fighters who are down on the cards just patiently follow the gameplan thinking things will magically turn around for them. It was refreshing to see someone throw caution to the wind because the gameplan wasn't working. Major props to Boetsch for stepping up when it mattered.
With that huge victory, Boetsch has earned himself another top level opponent for his next fight. The timing could work out for him to battle Chris Weidman next. If that doesn't work out, perhaps Mark Munoz or the upcoming winner between Rousimar Palhares and Alan Belcher. It appears for now that "The Barbarian" is here to stay at 185 pounds.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did your jaws collectively hit the floor when Boetsch came out a man possessed in the third round? Where do you rank this fight in terms of best comebacks of all time?
For complete UFC 144 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.