After being dismantled for two consecutive rounds in his opponent’s home country of Japan at UFC 144, middleweight Tim Boetsch pulled out all of the stops. The bell for the third and final round was about to sound as “The Barbarian” had one goal in mind—finish the fight. After all, there wasn’t much left for Boetsch, trailing two rounds to none, to do.

Then, when Yushin Okami least expected it, Boetsch connected on a head kick and followed with a series of vicious uppercuts. Okami was badly hurt as Boetsch saw the light for victory in sight. After more punishing blows, Okami fell to the Octagon in defeat as his hometown crowd saw the foreigner screaming almost loud enough so that his home state of Pennsylvania could hear him.

It was undoubtedly the biggest win of his career, and one Boetsch and his team will never forget.

Tim Boetsch (James Law/Heavy MMA)

“It obviously meant a lot to capture that win in Japan,” Boetsch told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “It always feels great to defeat a highly-ranked opponent, and that’s exactly what I did. It was a big come-from-behind win and one that I’ll never forget.”

“I had the feeling and knew that I had the ability to take down Okami the whole time. I had the game plan to do it, I just didn’t execute it early enough.  It took me to the third round, but I finished the deal when I had to. That win definitely boosted my confidence and showed me that I can knock out anyone in the world.”

Following his emotional win, Boetsch was slated to take on an even more reputable opponent—Michael Bisping. The two were set to square off at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on July 21. However, news soon broke that Bisping would be removed from the card due to an injury. It was bittersweet for Boetsch as he awaited a new opponent.

“Well, Bisping reportedly had a meniscus injury,” Boetsch explained. “I’ve had first-hand experience with meniscus injuries, the most severe type of injury. You can have those things fixed within a week. You have it fixed, take a week off, and you get back at it.”

“I’ve had wrestling teammates have meniscus surgery and compete in very large competitions just three days later. For me to hear that he pulled out, [it] made me question whether or not he actually wanted to fight me. I think in his mind, he knew what the result was already going to be,” said Boetsch. “I’m not surprised he pulled out.”

With Bisping sidelined, it was later announced that former Bellator star Hector Lombard would be making the transition to the UFC and that he would fill in for the British native. It was a drastic change in opponents, but one Boetsch feels he’ll able to adjust to without too many complications.

“You have to adjust your game plan for any opponent that you’ll be fighting. Lombard is a completely different fighter than Bisping. Bisping will run around the Octagon and try to outpoint you the whole fight. He doesn’t really have the risk of knocking you out. Hector, on the other hand, will run across the cage and try to knock your head off,” said Boetsch. “He obviously has a lot more knockout power.”

Tim Boetsch (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

For Boetsch, Lombard is just another chance to show the world who “The Barbarian” is. It’s a chance to knock off yet another talented star in the promotion. But most importantly, it’s a chance to move closer towards his highly-desired title shot.

After all, with all the talk of Lombard receiving a shot at gold with just one UFC win, Boetsch is equally deserving in victory, right?

“All this talk about Lombard receiving a title shot makes me feel great actually. If they’re going to give Hector Lombard a title shot if he beats me, hopefully the same will hold true when I take down Hector Lombard,” said Boetsch. “I’m happy that people are talking about it.”

“I plan on doing the same thing that I did to Okami. I’m going to finish Lombard and dish him his first knockout.”

Top Photo: Tim Boetsch (James Law/Heavy MMA)