Tim Boetsch has found a home in the middleweight division. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Tim Boetsch (16-4, 7-3 UFC) vs. Constantinos Philippou (11-2, 4-1 UFC)
The Matchup: This slot originally had serious big-picture implications in the middleweight division, but a torn labrum suffered by previous Boetsch opponent Chris Weidman has downgraded it from pivotal to merely interesting.
The promotion did a decent job in finding a replacement in Philippou, a former professional boxer with wins in each of his last four Octagon appearances. The Serra-Longo Fight Team member has been particularly impressive in his last two outings, landing good combinations while stuffing a combined 16 takedown attempts in victories over Court McGee and Riki Fukuda.
Despite his emergence as a Top 10 middleweight, the jury remains out on Boetsch. “The Barbarian” is 4-0 at 185 pounds, but recent performances -- even in victory -- have raised questions about his viability as a title contender. Before his stirring third-round comeback against Yushin Okami at UFC 144, the Washington native looked out of his league for 10 minutes; and in a highly anticipated clash with former Bellator Fighting Championships titleholder Hector Lombard at UFC 149, Boetsch lacked his trademark aggression. In Boetsch’s defense, Lombard offered little in return in what was a largely forgettable bout.
Regardless of aesthetics, winning is the name of the game, and Boetsch has proven he can adapt to a variety of situations to make that happen. Philippou will want to keep this one standing, utilizing his crafty footwork and quick combinations to keep his more powerful opponent at bay. Boetsch is an accurate power puncher, but by throwing single shots he risks eating three or four from Philippou in return. Smart movement, which includes consistently circling away from Boetsch to limit him to one punch at a time, will put the fight in Philippou’s wheelhouse.
While a technical fight favors the New Yorker, a physical clinch-oriented battle looks better for Boetsch, who has good dirty boxing and powerful uppercuts in tight. Though his offense against Lombard left plenty to be desired, two weapons Boetsch did use well were kicks and knees. He will want to continue that trend against Philippou.
As a former light heavyweight, Boetsch might very well be the strongest adversary Philippou has faced to date. While “The Barbarian” was unable to utilize his wrestling against the likes of Okami and Lombard, he will want to put Philippou’s takedown defense to the test here.
The Pick: Boetsch becomes the first person since Nick Catone to impose his will on Philippou, using clinches, takedowns and top control to earn a unanimous decision.
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