Five Fights To Get You Excited For UFC Fight Night 68

This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 68. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. 1. Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami – UFC 144 Upcoming Bout: Tim Boetsch vs. Dan Henderson

Looking back through Tim Boetsch’s record, you can see how difficult he makes MMA fights on himself. He’s 4-4 in his last 8 bouts, but two of those wins were very contentious decisions, and the other two were comeback knockouts where he was getting handled by his opponent. The Yushin Okami bout is what started that streak, and is by far the most jaw-dropping moment in Boetsch’s career (yes, that includes him tossing David Heath like a children’s plaything). I’m still very much unsure of what to make of the Boetsch/Henderson fight, but between the Okami and Brad Tavares fights, it seems that Boetsch is still very much able to take punishment and answer back, whereas Henderson seems like he’s on the verge of falling past that cliff.

2. Ben Rothwell vs. Devin Cole – IFL Championship 2006 Upcoming Bout: Ben Rothwell vs. Matt Mitrione

Watching heavyweights headkick other heavyweights is usually fun. Watching big, lumbering heavyweights headkick other heavyweights is always fun. Watching big, lumbering heavyweights headkick dudes who would go on to be arrested for rape and convicted for assault and sexual harassment is especially fun.

This fight doesn’t really tell you much except that Rothwell used to be a tiny bit faster than he is now, and he likes to telegraph and throw a right uppercut, but in this case it was enough to batter Devin Cole and give him enough space to land a surprisingly spry headkick to finish the fight. I doubt Matt Mitrione’s gameplan will look anything like Cole’s, but he won’t have any issues standing with Rothwell, so maybe, just maybe, we’ll see Rothwell turn back the clock and flash some fancy feet.

3. Anthony Birchak vs. Ryan Benoit – MFC 37 Upcoming Bout: Anthony Birchak vs. Joe Soto

I’m almost positive that I’ve used this fight before for Anthony Birchak, but that’s because it’s awesome… and RIP MFC. This fight shows some good and bad things about Birchak. The good, he has skills everywhere: solid wrestling, pretty decent striking, good cardio, size for the division. The bad is that he has moments in fights — even when he’s in a dominant position over a completely gassed Ryan Benoit — where he somehow gets reversed and gets put in bad positions himself. Against a higher quality opponent like Joe Soto, that could spell trouble for Birchak, and he won’t simply be able to rely on his conditioning and scrambling to get him out. I’m intrigued to see how Birchak’s second UFC outing goes, because I was fairly high on him coming into the promotion.

4. Francisco Rivera vs. Antonio Duarte – TPF 12 Upcoming Bout: Francisco Rivera vs. Alex Caceres

Francisco Rivera really seemed to find himself as a fighter after he was cut from the UFC for the first time. He went back to California and put some brutal performances on that he carried back to the UFC with him. This fight against Antonio Duarte was the most vicious knockout, and earned him an instant callback to the UFC. His hands are on full display for all 65 seconds of this fight, but against hittable opponents, that’s all the time he needs. Luckily for Rivera, his opponent on Saturday, Alex Caceres is a very hittable opponent.

5. Christos Giagos vs. Dakota Cochrane – RFA 17 Upcoming Bout: Christos Giagos vs. Chris Wade

While Giagos ended up winning this fight with his striking, perhaps the more important thing to take away is how he fared in the wrestling. Early on, Cochrane was able to get the better of the grappling sequences, even though Giagos did manage a few takedowns of his own. One thing to note is how much Giagos made Cochrane work from top position after he did gets takedowns, and that clearly paid dividends, as Cochrane was tired coming into the second round and no longer able to get takedowns. Once they were stranded on the feet, Giagos was able to unload with his very dangerous striking. He’s facing a similar fighter in Chris Wade on Saturday, so I’m sure he’ll be looking for a similar performance.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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