Luke Rockhold stepped into the cage as the No. 5-ranked middleweight, and he exits by throwing his name into the title discussion.
Tim Boetsch, ranked No. 13, is no slouch. He is a tough veteran who has given many in the division their toughest fight. That was not the case at UFC 172. Rockhold needed only two minutes, eight seconds to dispatch Boetsch.
It was a quick night, but this is what we learned from the middleweight bout.
What We'll Remember About the Fight
Rockhold's grappling acumen was on full display, and his ground work was very memorable.
The former Strikeforce middleweight titleholder got an inverted triangle choke in a scramble, and he controlled that position. As Boetsch defended the triangle, Rockhold sought out other submissions. He grabbed a kimura.
Boetsch was all tied up and had no way of defending the kimura. Rockhold finished for the swift and impressive victory.
What We Learned About Boetsch
It was not because of anything he did in the cage, but because Rockhold ousted him so quickly we didn't have the chance to see what "The Barbarian" has been working on. That was a little disappointing as Boetsch is one of the more underrated performers in the UFC.
Hopefully we will get to see more from him in his next time out.
What We Learned About Rockhold
We learned that his grappling is some of the best in the division.
His jiu-jitsu may not be as technically sound as Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza's, but his versatility inside the cage makes him one of the top grapplers. We don't often see a reverse triangle attempt, let alone one from a 185-pound fighter.
He quickly dominated Boetsch on the mat, and the performance makes certain that future opponents will have to game-plan for any mat work.
What's Next for Boetsch
He has lost three of his last four, and he'd be on a four-fight losing streak if not for some questionable judging against C.B. Dollaway.
Dollaway is coming off a win over Cezar Ferreira at UFC Fight Night 38, and he may want to avenge the loss against The Barbarian. The fight makes sense as neither is close to contention.
The rematch would settle that grudge once and for all, and the winner would earn another Top 15-level fight.
What's Next for Rockhold
Rockhold called out both Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping after the fight. The Bisping fight makes no sense following the Brit's loss to Tim Kennedy, and Belfort should have the next crack at the middleweight title.
The fight that makes the most sense would be a fall date with a returning Souza.
Jacare is ranked No. 4 in the division, and it would essentially be a title eliminator.
The two met in Strikeforce with the belt on the line in 2011. Rockhold got the decision nod, and this rematch would help make the middleweight title picture a bit clearer moving into 2015. It would make sense for the co-main event slot when Belfort gets his shot at the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida.