The UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson event will feature a middleweight bout between Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch and former number one contender Yushin “Thunder” Okami this weekend in Saitama, Japan. This is an interesting fight for a couple of reasons in that it’ll be Okami’s first fight since getting demolished by Anderson Silva in his last outing. Also, this will be the third fight at middleweight for Boetsch who has looked pretty impressive since dropping down from the light heavyweight division. Lastly, this will be Okami’s first fight in his native country since 2006 so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets any kind of ‘pop’ from the crowd(probably will not). Let’s get right into the breakdown.
Tim Boetsch comes into this fight with a career record of (14-4) with six wins via TKO/KO and five wins via submission. He was last seen in action tossing Nick Ring around the cage back at UFC 135. Boetsch is a former light heavyweight that has moved down to the middleweight division where he is currently (2-0). Boetsch comes from a wrestling background while also having experience in judo and Bruce Lee’s jeet june do. He has had some issues in the past with his cardio, but some of that can be attributed to taking fights on short notice. He has also given up takedowns to opponents in his career, but that was against some very good wrestlers in Matt Hamill, Phil Davis, and Jason Brilz.
Yushin Okami comes into this fight with a career record of (26-6) with nine wins via TKO/KO and four wins via submission. As mentioned earlier, he is coming off the TKO loss to Anderson Silva back at UFC 134 in Brazil. Okami is (10-3) in the UFC with those losses coming against 2 former champions and a former title challenger. Okami is known for his strength as a middleweight, but has good wrestling and grappling while improving his striking quite a bit over the years. Okami is as tough as they come and really doesn’t have many weaknesses with the knock on him being that he was ‘boring’ by many fans and pundits. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he knows how to win
Okami is the favorite at (-285) and Boetsch at the underdog at (+215).
I think Okami should be the favorite in this fight for sure, but I think he’s valued a bit high here. You could probably feel comfortable putting a small amount on Boetsch here. How will Okami react to getting demolished after getting the title shot that he worked so long and hard to acheive? Also, the strength advantage he usually enjoys could be nullified by Boetsch who is a very powerful guy as well. If Boetsch doesn’t gas in this fight he certainly could win it.
The cardio for Boetsch is going to be the key in this fight if he wants to win. I think his striking is good enough to hang with Okami and I don’t think Okami will be able to toss him around easily at all. Okami has been content with keeping fights on the feet at of late as well, so that bodes well for Boetsch also. Boetsch simply needs to fight in a controlled manor with his striking and defend takedowns at all cost as Okami has really good top control. Boetsch does have the ability to put opponents away so it’s a real possiblity that he could land a big shot on Okami and put him away via TKO. However, it should be noted that Okami has only been stopped via TKO twice in his career. Boetsch could win a decision, but he will have to be in superb shape and fight a really disciplined fight.
The key to Okami winning this fight is doing what he normally does and that’s making his opponents work. If he’s able to push the pace against Boetsch without taking any major damage I could see him finishing a tired Boetsch late in this fight or just winning the decision. He should look to close the distance and put Boetsch against the cage and either take him down or work from the clinch as he does this pretty well. In this manor he’ll be taking a little bit of cardio from Boetsch each time which would pay off as the fight goes on. Okami’s striking is good enough to hang with Boetsch, but he should probably use it to set up takedowns as Boetsch wouldn’t be much of a threat at all to submit Okami from his back. Okami would be able to control him there which would be his easiest path to victory.
I think Okami wins this one via decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boetsch land something big and put Okami away early on in the fight.