Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight bruisers Tim Boetsch and Johny Hendricks will collide this Sunday (June 25, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 112 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Between 2012 and 2015, Boetsch failed to put together back-to-back wins, taking a beating more often than not and even trying his hand back at 205 pounds. Most thought that was the end for “The Barbarian,” but Boetsch bounced back with a pair of quality wins last year to save his career. Hendricks’ slide wasn’t quite as dramatic, but the former Welterweight kingpin did lose a trio of fights while struggling to make weight each time. However, “Big Rigg” legitimately fought well for the first time in a long time in his 185-pound debut, showing that he still has something left in the tank as well.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Rafael Natal (UFC 205), Yushin Okami (UFC 144), Hector Lombard (UFC 149), Brad Tavares (UFC Fight Night 68)
Key Losses: Luke Rockhold (UFC 172), Ronaldo Souza (UFC 208), Thales Leites (UFC 183), Dan Henderson (UFC Fight Night 68)
Keys To Victory: Boetsch has been there and done that. He’s spent the last seven years inside the Octagon fighting the world’s best. And while he hasn’t always come out on top, Boetsch has proven to be a well-rounded fighter with a penchant for pulling off upsets.
Despite being a reasonably stocky wrestler, Boetsch bucks stereotypes by having a pretty strong outside game. At his best, Boetsch moves well, jams opponents up with a stiff front kick, and possesses some strong counter punches.
That should be the strategy here.
If Boetsch attempts to play the clinch wrestler/inside brawler, it probably won’t go well. Even with his size advantage, Hendricks is too good of a wrestler and will throw at a higher volume, which is very problematic considering this bout will most likely go to a decision. Working from the outside gives Boetsch a far better chance to score heavy strikes and frustrate Hendricks. Additionally, it’s easier to take a fighter down who is lunging forward, meaning reactive takedowns are Boetsch’s best chance at scoring top position.
Key Wins: Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 105), Robbie Lawler (UFC 171), Carlos Condit (UFC 158), Jon Fitch (UFC 141)
Key Losses: Stephen Thompson (UFC Fight Night 82), Robbie Lawler (UFC 181), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 200), George St. Pierre (UFC 167)
Keys to Victory: Hendricks is a miserable fighter to fight. He works at a very high rate, chipping away with long combinations, the occasional haymaker, and some devastating low kicks. Occasionally, he also remembers his status as an NCAA Champion wrestler and will precede to toss his opponent around the cage.
In this bout, Hendricks needs to fight from his ideal range. Despite those aforementioned low kicks, Hendricks simply does not do well at the kickboxing distance. Instead, Hendricks works from a tight boxing range, where he can easily reach out and touch his opponent.
At this range, Hendricks throws better combinations, slips more shots, and sets up his takedowns more effectively.
With Boetsch likely looking to avoid that range for all those reasons, Hendricks would be wise to look to shoot/tie up early. Boetsch is unlikely to give away an easy takedown, but forcing him to grapple will help enable Hendricks to strike at close range. Once in such exchanges, Hendricks would be wise to attack the body and kick the legs. Running around on the outside is an exhausting game, so breaking down his conditioning would allow Hendricks to fight his game more often as the fight wears on.
Bottom Line: Boetsch has long served as a divisional gatekeeper, and oddly enough, Hendricks is sort of a prospect in his new division.
Boetsch is a long-time company man, valuable for his experience and name value. Simply put, you know what you’re getting when Boetsch is booked to fight. Basically, so long as he can avoid any length losing streaks and stay sharp, his position is pretty secure. Meanwhile, a fight like this — against an unranked opponent — won’t do anything to push him forward, that will only happen if he catches another big upset against one of the division’s top dogs.
The stakes are higher for Hendricks, whose position in the division is still uncertain. He looked very solid opposite Hector Lombard, but Lombard is inconsistent as hell himself. Boetsch, meanwhile, is a big Middleweight who packs a consistent threat, meaning he’s a solid baseline to test Hendricks at 185 pounds. If Hendricks succeeds, he’s ready for a Top 15 opponent. If not, “Big Rigg” may need to head back to the drawing board.
At UFC Fight Night 112, Tim Boetsch and Johny Hendricks will compete in the co-main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?