CALGARY, Alberta — Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch scored a split-decision victory over Hector Lombard at UFC 149 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night, advancing his quest for a future Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title fight.
The 31-year-old Boetsch battled through what has since been diagnosed as a broken right foot he apparently suffered with a kick that struck Lombard’s knee early in the second round to score his fourth consecutive victory since moving down from the light-heavyweight (205-pound) division to the middleweight (185-pound) ranks.
Boetsch won two rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards to earn the decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
“The fight was a little too close for comfort with a split decision,” said Boetsch, a former four-time state wrestling champion from Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport, during a post-fight interview airing on YouTube.
“I knew I had landed quite a few strikes, and my foot is definitely a testament to that, it’s definitely throbbing right now.”
Lombard, the favorite entering the match, was making his UFC debut but had been unbeaten in his previous 25 mixed martial arts bouts, a run that earned him the Bellator championship.
Boetch is now 16-4 overall, while Lombard is 31-3-1.
“He’s definitely a power striker, and part of the game plan was to eliminate that by keeping him out of range with my kicks and I was able to do that for most of the fight,” said Boetsch. “Although I wasn’t able to get the takedowns going like I planned, I did just barely enough to get the ‘W’ and I’m happy to walk away with the win.”
Lombard came out as the aggressor in the opening round, but Boetsch methodically used his kicks to successfully keep his opponent, a former Cuban Olympian in judo, out of range for his punches to take effect.
That tactic served Boetsch well throughout each of the five-minute rounds.
“He’s super heavy handed,” said Boetsch, who now lives in Sunbury, Pa. “He clipped me in the neck with one of his left hooks, and I definitely didn’t want to let him do it again.”
With successive victories this year over former No. 1 contender Yushin Okami and now Lombard, Boetsch has positioned himself as one of the top candidates to challenge longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva of Brazil.
Other contenders include Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Brian Stann and Vitor Belfort, and it’s possible Boetsch’s next fight could be an elimination bout of sorts against one of those rivals.
“I’m going to let my foot heal, start training again and whomever the UFC deems worthy of getting in the cage with me next, I’ll beat them, too,” said Boetsch.