You can tell a lot about a fighter when his back is against the wall. Will he wilt or will he overcome the odds and win the fight?
Tim Boetsch faced that problem at UFC 144.
Boetsch was easily down two rounds when he fought Yushin Okami in February. But with his trainer, Matt Hume, telling him to finish the fight, Boetsch went back in and finished Okami 54 seconds into the third round.
Now Boetsch is one step closer to his dream of fighting for the middleweight championship of the world.
Boetsch took a lot away from his fight against Okami as he prepares for Saturday's bout.
"The biggest thing for me is just realizing I can fight hard through three rounds," Boetsch told Bleacher Report. "Just my confidence with competing with the top guys in the sport.
"Yushin Okami is a super tough guy and is coming off a title shot. He's just all-around a good fighter and I was able to put him away, so it really boosted my confidence."
Boetsch was originally supposed to face Michael Bisping at UFC 148 earlier this month, but due to a rash of injuries to the card the UFC moved it to Saturday's card. Then Bisping suffered an injury early last month, so Lombard is now the opponent. Boetsch feels Lombard's style of fighting excites him more than Bisping's.
"Because Michael Bisping runs and tries to play the point game," Boetsch said. "He's just not that exciting to watch.
"The complete opposite of that is Hector Lombard. A guy who's going to run straight at you and try to take your head off with huge punches. That's going to be an exciting fight. It's a fight the fans want to see.
"I don't know too many fans that want to see somebody running around the cage trying to not get into a fight."
A lot of fighters and critics have said Lombard hasn't fought top competition in his 25-fight winning streak. Boetsch agrees with the assesment, but knows Lombard is still a very dangerous fighter.
"He hasn't faced the level of competition he'll face in the UFC, but that doesn't mean he's not a super tough guy or a top fighter," Boetsch said. "He has really heavy hands and knockout ability.
"The guy's a butt-kicking machine. I respect him and I expect him to come out and try to take my head off. I'm not taking him lightly by any means. I agree with [Mark] Munoz. He hasn't fought the level of competition he's going to get here in the UFC."
The middleweight division has become one of the most stacked in the UFC. With Anderson Silva defeating Chael Sonnen almost two weeks ago and Chris Weidman beating Mark Munoz last week, Boetsch feels if he defeats Lombard he's next in line to face Silva.
"Honestly, I think I'm next," Boetsch said. "I think I just beat Okami, I'm going to beat up Hector and then I believe I'm next in line."
UFC 149 takes place Saturday night from Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Boetsch vs Lombard fight is on the main that airs on pay-per-view starting at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
You can listen to the entire interview with Tim Boetsch here.
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