Tim Boetsch typically hasn’t been the bigger combatant during his 21 previous Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts.
That was true when the Lincolnville native fought as a 205-pound light heavyweight and even as he has competed more recently in the 185-pound middleweight class.
Boetsch will be the bigger guy when he steps into the Octagon on Sunday night to battle former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 112 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The main card, to be televised live on FS1, is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. The preliminary card, which will include the second UFC fight for Wells lightweight Devin Powell, will be aired on FS2 beginning at 7 p.m.
Hendricks, the 33-year-old hometown favorite from Ada, Oklahoma, competed in the 170-pound welterweight division before failing to make weight in back-to-back losses last year to Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny.
That prompted Hendricks to move up to middleweight, where he debuted with a unanimous-decision victory in February over Hector Lombard, who himself has done much of his recent fighting as a welterweight.
So when Boetsch, who also holds a win over Lombard, squares off against Hendricks they’ll weigh about the same, but Boetsch will have a 3-inch height advantage and a 5-inch reach advantage that he hopes to use to send Hendricks back to the land of the welterweights.
“Size is a factor in the fight game, otherwise they wouldn’t have weight classes,” Boetsch said. “(Hendricks) talked about bringing in some training partners who were big guys, middleweights, but that’s all speculation. He hasn’t competed in the UFC cage against a UFC middleweight so he’s going to get the first dose of that on Sunday night and I think it will be a reality check for him.”
Boetsch (20-11, 11-10 in the UFC) is coming off a first-round submission loss (kimura) to third-ranked Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 208 in Brooklyn, New York, in February, a bout that ended his two-fight winning streak.
“I knew how good he was on the ground, but we had a plan and I deviated from that for just a split second,” Boetsch said, “and to speak to the level of fighter he is just with that split second of deviation he was able to capitalize.
“But that’s sport of fighting. If you lose track for even a second in there, that’s all it takes for a high-level opponent to be able to strike and finish.”
Boetsch not only will face a shorter opponent in Hendricks, but also a left-hander.
The Camden-Rockport High School graduate fought a series of southpaws several years ago but none recently, though he said his workouts with trainer Marcus Davis — also a left-hander — should leave him well prepared for the different look.
“I think we all know what to expect from Johny,” Boetsch said. “We’ve all watched his career and seen that there’s no real surprises and hasn’t been much variation in his tactics. It’s pretty straight forward. He’s going to come out and throw big shots, look to crowd me and if he’s done his homework on me he’s going to try to outwrestle me and take me down and make it a grinding fight.”
Hendricks (18-6, 13-6 UFC) lost a split decision to Georges St-Pierre in a November 2013 bout for the UFC welterweight championship, then defeated Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision the following March to win the title belt St. Pierre had vacated.
Hendricks’ championship run was short lived, as he lost to Lawler by split decision in their December 2014 rematch.
“Obviously I’m not going to let him impose his will in there,” Boetsch said. “I think he’s going to have a reality check very early in this fight, and should he get through that first reality check I think that’s going to alter the way he fights. He’s going to become desperate, and it’s only going to get worse for him.”