Tim Boetsch didn’t think it could get any better.

After being dismantled for two consecutive rounds by Yushin Okami at UFC 144, “The Barbarian” stormed back in the third and final round to complete one of the greatest comebacks the sport has ever seen. Not only did Boetsch drop Okami to the canvas with vicious uppercuts, but he did so in his opponent’s home country of Japan.

Fast forward two years later, Boetsch was wrong.

“I didn’t think it could ever get better than knocking out Okami in Japan, Boetsch told The MMA Corner. “But two years later, I was wrong. I got to fight in front of my hometown crowd.”

Much like the Okami fight, Boetsch found himself down on the judge’s scorecards early. His opponent, a young up-and-coming middleweight in Brad Tavares was outclassing “The Barbian”. But in nearly identical fashion to two years earlier, Boetsch kicked things up a gear as he dropped Tavares with a series of punches, capturing yet another come from behind win. The rollercoaster of a fight earned Boetsch a roaring ovation and his first ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.

“It was an amazing experience. I never thought I could outdo my performance in Japan. I truly thought that would be the highlight of my career, but I was wrong. To come from behind like that and knock the guy out was incredible. There wasn’t a person in the crowd that wasn’t rooting for me,” Boetsch said. “It was an experience that I’ll never forget.

Leading up to his showdown with Tavares at UFC Fight Night 47, Boetsch made the decision to train with UFC veteran Marcus Davis at Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer, ME. Boetsch’s decision would mean parting ways with long-time coach in Matt Hume who helped lead the middleweight to much success over the last several years.

It was a decision that came with much consideration, but in the end, proved to be the best for Boetsch and his career.

“After my fight with Tavares, I decided that I would be training with Marcus [Davis]. Marcus has a great formula and we work extremely well together as a team. We’re on the same page with where we want to go and what it’s going to take to get there,” Boetsch said. “I see myself working with Marcus until I’m finished with fighting.”

“For me, after my loss to Rockhold, I had to reevaluate things. That loss really sent me back to the drawing board and I had to make a decision that would benefit my career. I had to make a decision and decide what was most important to me as a fighter, a husband, and a father. It made more sense for me to train in Maine where I’m closer to my family. There were a lot of different factors that went into the decision to change camps. I’m still on good terms with Matt. There was never a point of a fallout between us or anything like that,” Boetsch said. “It was a career choice that I made and I believe it was the best decision for me.”

All settled in with Davis and his new team in Maine, Boetsch has turned his focus to Thales Leites who he will meet at UFC 183 on January 31. To remain relevant in the UFC’s riveting middleweight division, Boetsch will once again have to prove to the world his grit and resoluteness are worth your attention.

Boetsch will stand toe-to-toe with Leites who currently rides a seven fight winning streak, the second longest of his career. But not only is UFC 183 another opportunity for Boetsch to prove he belongs, but a chance to showcase his skills to the pay-per-view crowd.

“It’s a huge opportunity to get the chance to fight on a card like this and be on the pay-per-view portion of this event,” Boetsch said. “We’re really looking at this fight as our chance to breakout. This is my 16th fight with the UFC and I’m still one of those guys that maybe the hardcore fans know about, but the casual fans don’t truly know who “The Barbarian” is. This fight provides the opportunity to put myself out there and show what I’m capable of doing. After UFC 183, I want people talking and knowing who I am.”

“Leites is one of these guys who’s been around for a while and he’s fought some of the best guys in the sport. If you allow him to do what he wants to do, he can give you trouble anywhere he wants. He’s a tough guy and throws some really hard punches. He’s very highly skilled on the ground and great at getting takedowns when he sets them up properly. He’s a very dangerous opponent for me,” Boetsch said. “It’s just a matter of not giving him the opportunity to get going and imposing my will from start to finish.”

With the increased hype and pressure surrounding UFC 183, Boetsch doesn’t feel anymore pressure than he has in previous fights. It’s quite possible that Boetsch might find himself down the judge’s scorecards early as he has in the past. But for Boetsch, the judge’s scorecards won’t matter.

“I don’t see this one going to the judge’s scorecards. When you look at how we both fight, I think we’ll both be looking for the finish. He’s going to be looking to keep his winning streak alive and I’m really looking forward to ending it,” Boetsch said. “I think someone is getting knocked out and I’m pretty sure I know who it’s going to be.”

 

All quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted. Follow @GarrettDerr on Twitter.

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