The Severe Diagnosis: UFC Fight Night 68: Henderson vs. Boetsch

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The party city of New Orleans, Louisiana was this week’s host for the UFC as the latest fight night card went down at the magnificently named Smoothie King Center. A much maligned card on paper, it couldn’t have been more different in practice as finish followed finish on a truly magical night of martial arts.

Hendo Bombs Boetsch

In the main event, two old school middleweight veterans went head-to-head as former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson took on perennial over-achiever Tim Boetsch. For Henderson it was always going to have to be done early with the way he throws power strikes while Boetsch, who is known for staying in fights and making comebacks, was expected to take the slower, more prolonged approach to getting the win. As it got underway, both men looked calm and didn’t try to do too much in the first engagement. Henderson immediately took the centre of the cage and cocked his right hand while Boetsch got his feet moving to swerve it. A couple of feelers jabs from Henderson were the first embryos of violence from him and were answered by a powerfully thrown overhand right from Boetsch which was well off base.

A front kick to the body from Boetsch quickly followed that and two hooks, one from either hand, had Henderson backing up at a rate of knots. As Boetsch chased his opponent towards the cage with a few more hooks in his back pocket, Henderson drove forward and put him on the seat of his pants with a wicked straight right hand directly on the smacker. Boetsch looked in dire trouble but, to his credit, he did manage to get back to his feet. From there, Boetsch clinched for his life but ate a hard knee to the body for his troubles.

Henderson clearly sensed blood with Boetsch still hurt and landed another knee, this time to the head, which got him to disengage. As Boetsch backed against the fence with his legs wobbling he left himself wide open for a Henderson right hand which caught him bang on the nose. Boetsch was almost out of it at this stage and an unbelievably well timed right hand uppercut from Henderson dropped him face-first into the canvas.

As Boetsch attempt to scrapered to his knees, Henderson was in no mood to wait around and pounced down on his stricken opponent. With referee John McCarthy watching closely, Henderson unleashed six power shots and as he threw the seventh, MMA’s most respected referee stood in and stopped the fight with Tim Boetsch in no position to continue. Although it might not do much for him going forward, this was a real throwback to the Dan Henderson of yore and maybe a sign that their may be a little bit of life left in the old dog yet.

Big Win For Ben

Then, in the penultimate bout of the evening, top-15 ranked heavyweights Ben Rothwell and Matt Mitrione fought with the possibility of a title run for either man not beyond the realms of imagination. And, with the small UFC octagon in use, it was always going to be exciting for a meeting of big boys like this. Mitrione was light on his feet from the very start as it was clear his game plan was to out-work and out-manoeuvre his bigger, slower opponent. Initially, Rothwell struggled with the movement and was caught right out of the gate with an expertly thrown straight left hand from the former “Ultimate Fighter” housemate.

Big Ben answered back with a hard low kick which made Mitrione stumble briefly but it didn’t quell him whatsoever. In truth, it was all Mitrione early as he landed at will with combinations in the pocket as Rothwell struggled to deal with his speed. A lovely left hand/right hook double was the next Mitrione attack and he had Rothwell pawing him away with the fight seemingly going only one way. A body kick from Mitrione, after a right hand from Rothwell, had his lead extended but then it all changed. As they met in the centre of the cage again, Mitrione decided to change up his game and went for a takedown.

Momentarily, it looked as if Rothwell was going on his back but he turned out of the takedown and both men landed on their knees. Without a moment’s hesitation, Rothwell switched his position and took a hold of Mitrione’s unguarded neck. From there is was easy for “Big Ben” to adjust his position and to synch up the front choke. Now in deep trouble, there was no place for Mitrione to go and all he could do was tap out and give Rothwell the come-from-behind win. After the fight, Rothwell promised to get his hands on the title very soon while it’s back to the drawing board for Matt Mitrione after another disappointing loss.

Finishing Fights

Outside of the top two there was a hugely impressive undercard which saw a raft of finishes littered throughout. The best fight of the night went down on the main card between featherweight fliers Brian Ortega and Thiago Tavares. Early in the fight, Tavares looked very good with his wrestling but the active guard of Ortega, including a close armbar attempt, made it extremely exciting. Midway through the fight it all changed, though, as Tavares was cut badly with a hammerfist thrown from the bottom. After that, with blood filling the Octagon, Ortega upped the pace and was able to get a wonderful TKO to finish a fight of the year contender in the last round.

Elsewhere there were big knockouts for Anthony Birchak and Cisco Rivera, big submissions for Joe Proctor and Jose Quinonez while Shawn Jordan knocked out Derrick Lewis with a sweet chin music hook kick to the face while the outstanding performance of the night came from former Conor McGregor foe Dustin Poirier who knocked Yancy Medeiros down multiple times before finishing him against the cage with a flurry of strikes in the first round.

Check out the full results below:

Dan Henderson def. Tim Boetsch via knockout – R1, 0:28
Ben Rothwell def. Matt Mitrione via submission (front choke) – R1, 1:54
Dustin Poirier def. Yancy Medeiros via TKO – R1, 2:38
Brian Ortega def. Thiago Tavares via TKO – R3, 4:10
Anthony Birchak def. Joe Soto via knockout – R1, 1:37
Francisco Rivera def. Alex Caceres via knockout – R1, 0:21

Shawn Jordan def. Derrick Lewis via TKO – R2, 0:48
Omari Akhmedov def. Brian Ebersole via TKO (retirement) – R1, 5:00
Chris Wade def. Christos Giagos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Joe Proctor def. Justin Edwards via technical submission (guillotine) – R3, 4:58

Jake Collier def. Ricardo Abreu via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jose Quinonez def. Leonardo Morales via submission (rear naked choke) – R1, 2:34

 

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma