UFC 166: Fighters Under the Most Pressure to Win
Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch is a battler.
He may not be the most physically gifted fighter, but he's tough as nails and never stops coming. Unfortunately for him, he is at a bad patch in his career. Boetsch has lost his last two bouts to Costas Philippou and Mark Munoz, respectively.
He can ill afford to drop a third.
After winning four-straight bouts over Kendall Grove, Nick Ring, Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard, Boetsch was on the cusp of earning a title shot. With his recent losing streak, he's headed the wrong way on the UFC's middleweight rankings.
On Saturday at UFC 166 at the Toyota Center in Houston, he will take on C.B. Dollaway during the Fox Sports 1 preliminaries. If Boetsch hopes to get his name back in the discussion of the elite fighters at 185 pounds, he has to win on Saturday.
Dollaway is proof that rebounding from back-to-back losses is possible. Before his current two-fight win streak, he had lost to Munoz and Jared Hamman.
Boetsch has the edge in this fight, especially if he can keep the affair standing. He has notable punching power to augment his solid wrestling background. Seven of his 16 wins have come by KO, and he has landed 51 percent of his strikes in his career.
Dollaway needs to get Boetsch to the mat and that hasn't been a difficult task. The Barbarian has thwarted just 51.5 percent of the takedowns attempted against him. Dollaway lands just over four takedowns per match, and that would seem to be the smartest approach against Boetsch.
We'll have to wait until Saturday to see which fighter gets his way.
Boetsch isn't the only fighter with a good amount of pressure on them heading into UFC 166.
Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez Needs a Win to Validate the Hype
Those who follow MMA beyond UFC broadcasts know how good El Nino is. However, with only one UFC fight under his belt, he's still a newcomer with the promotion. He was given a title shot immediately upon arrival and lost to Benson Henderson in April.
Now Melendez will face Diego Sanchez in a bout he must win.
Sanchez is a respected, tough and dangerous veteran, but if Melendez is who most believe he is, this is a fight he should win. He's technically sharper than Sanchez, and he is tougher to hit or take down.
In his career, Melendez's takedown defense (72 to 53 percent) and striking defense (65 to 59 percent) are superior to Sanchez's. It is difficult to beat a man you can't submit or take down.
Sanchez wants to fight a more frantic pace, while Melendez prefers a controlled tempo. If Sanchez can make it a brawl, he has a chance. If he doesn't, Melendez will pick him apart from the outside with superior quickness and accuracy.
If Melendez falls short, a legitimate doubt will be raised as to where he stands among 155-pound fighters.
Will the Real Hector "Lightning" Lombard Please Stand Up?
Since he made his UFC debut as a highly touted veteran in July 2012, Lombard has been up and down. He lost a split decision to Boetsch, knocked out the overrated and since banned (Fox Sports) Rousimar Palhares and then lost a split decision to Okami.
Lombard was renowned for his excellent striking skills, but up to now, the UFC community hasn't seen much to be excited about.
Who needs a win the most?
When Lombard tangles with Nate Marquadt on Saturday, he needs to win impressively. At 35 years old, Lombard doesn't have a great deal of time to make a splash in the UFC. After three fights with the promotion, he's no closer to a title shot than he was last year.
A loss to Marquadt could make any hopes of serious contention impossible.
Marquadt is seemingly ripe for the pickings. He's lost two in a row and has always been submission fighter more than an elite striker. Only nine of his 32 wins have come by KO. He's been fighting in the UFC since 2005, so his name carries some weight.
Lombard has a three-inch height disadvantage, but he's quicker than Marquadt. If he can keep the fight standing, that edge should be enough to earn him the win with his striking.
If he loses, he'll have some serious things to consider in regard to his long-term future in the UFC.
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