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UFC 144 comeback: Boetsch pulls off miracle against Okami; Shields gets by ‘Sexyama’

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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Boetsch rages in victory (Photo by Tracy Lee)

With some guts, power and toughness, Tim Boetsch turned a trip back down the middleweight ladder into an opportunity to legitimately call out top-five fighters at 185 pounds.

After getting schooled for two rounds in every aspect of the game, Boetsch landed some huge shots to finish Yushin Okami at the 0:54 mark of the third round at UFC 144 in Tokyo, Japan.

[Video: Boetsch outduels Okami with power and guts]

Boetsch got picked apart in the first by Okami's boxing. The Japanese veteran then turned to his vaunted ground-and-pound game in the second. Okami outlanded Boetsch 47-26 over the first two rounds. With Boetsch down 2-0 and his face busted up, the American had to go for broke.

He came out looking for the home run shot landing some effective kicks early before grabbing Okami's head and blasting him with an uppercut. Okami stumbled backward and took a deep breath, but Boetsch didn't allow him to collect himself. He followed Okami around the cage and landed another good combination. The completely stunned Okami was out on his feet. That's when Boetsch grabbed his head again and dug in deep to land three more uppercuts. Okami went down in a heap after the third and referee Leon Roberts had to jump in to save him.

"It still hasn't settled in yet. The first two rounds weren't good, but I won the third round and that's what counts. Yushin hit me harder than I expected, but I was standing at the end of his range so it was kind of my fault. I knew I had to move forward, but the upper cuts were a spur of the moment thing. Awesome night overall," said Boetsch.

After racing out to a 10-2 start with the UFC, Okami has now dropped two straight. Boetsch (15-4, 4-1 UFC) is a perfect 3-0 at middleweight.

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Shields takes Akiyama's back as he holds onto the cage (Photo by Tracy Lee)

Shields wins favor with the judges

There's no mistaking what Jake Shields wants to do. A jiu-jitsu ace, he efforts to get his opponent to the ground. He couldn't accomplish that against Yoshihiro Akiyama, so turned to Plan B and got the victory.

Shields (27-6-1, 2-2 UFC) landed lots of short strikes and many leg kicks to earn the nod from the judges, 30-27 on all three cards. He sealed the fight down the stretch by scoring three takedowns late. He also got Sexyama's back and threatened with a choke in the final 30 seconds.

Some onlookers thought Akiyama (13-5, 1-4 UFC) did enough to win. His volume wasn't high enough on the the feet, but he did score three awesome judo throws/trips. He was also successful in defending 9-of-11 takedowns. Unfortunately, that just doesn't score enough with judges. According to Compustrike, Shields outlanded Akiyama 120-58.

[Video: Late takedowns propel Shields over Akiyama]

This was Akiyama's debut at 170 pounds. The move paid off. He was certainly competitive with one of the top welterweights in the worlds. He looked strong at the weight and unlike his previous fights at middleweight, his energy remained pretty constant into the late stages of the fight.

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