HOUSTON — Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch got his mixed martial arts career back on the winning track Saturday night, defeating CB Dollaway by split decision on the undercard of UFC 166 at the Toyota Center.
The fight was the main event of the undercard, and was televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
Boetsch won by 30-26 counts on two of the three judges scorecards, while Dollaway won 29-27 on the third judge’s card.
The 32-year-old Boetsch. who had lost his previous two fights, is now 17-6 overall after scoring his eighth career victory with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s top MMA promotion.
Dollaway, an injury replacement for former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, falls to 14-6 after having his two-fight win streak halted.
Boetsch, who entered the bout ranked ninth among middleweight (185-pound) fighters in the UFC, withstood a grueling 15 minutes of action against Dollaway, like Boetsch a former collegiate wrestler.
The 30-year-old Dollaway, from Tempe, Ariz., used his two-inch height and reach advantages to avoid Boetsch’s early offense and land some effective counterstrikes during the first round.
When Boetsch charged toward Dollaway early in the second round, Dollaway secured a takedown and settled into the top position, but Boetsch eventually was able to power back to his feet.
Dollaway soon scored another takedown, but this time Boetsch answered with several hammerfists from his back. Boetsch eventually gained control of Dollaway’s arm, but with Dollaway on top Boetsch couldn’t apply enough pressure to force a submission.
Referee Kerry Hatley took a point away from Dollaway early in the third round for twice poking Boetsch’s right eye with an open glove. The fight was stopped momentarily after the first eye poke so the cageside doctor could check Boetsch’s condition, but Boetsch maintained that his vision was not impaired so the fight continued.
The pokes bloodied Boetsch’s eye but also raised his ire, and the former four-time state wrestling champion from Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport soon pressed the attack.
Boetsch connected with a left and a right, but Dollaway turned a Boetsch kick into a takedown.
Boetsch soon applied a guillotine, but Dollaway worked his way into a full mount before Boetsch gradually worked his way back to a standing position.
Boetsch then pinned Dollaway against the cage wall and continued to press the attack with knees, kicks and foot stomps. While Dollaway used that aggression to score two more takedowns, they were short-lived as Boetsch was able to attempt at least two additional choke moves before the final five-minute round ended.
Television broadcasters thought the deducted point might play a key role in determining the winner of the match, but it didn’t because Boetsch won all three rounds on two of the judges’ cards while Dollaway won two rounds with the third round even on the third judge’s scorecard.
Boetsch, who now lives in Sunbury, Pa., is now 5-2 in the UFC since dropping from light heavyweight (205 pounds) to middleweight in 2011.