Everyone wants to know who the next challenger to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will be.
Is it Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Brian Stann?
Prior to Saturday night’s UFC 149, many felt it would be the winner between former Bellator champion Hector Lombard and rising middleweight Tim Boetsch.
After their fight, however, the picture didn’t get much clearer.
Lombard defied his usual bombastic tactics, succumbing to Boetsch’s methodical plan of attack, in a fight that left many scratching their heads.
“Our gameplan,” recounted Boetsch after the fight, “was to utilize those leg kicks to not allow him to explode into that range that he's very powerful.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Even though the plan nearly went awry.
“I wanted to use my kicks to keep him off me and that's what I was doing. Then, early in the second round, I blew up my foot, which made the rest of the fight more uncomfortable than I had anticipated.”
Although Boetsch’s broken foot didn’t pull him from a title shot – that was never the plan – it did throw a monkey wrench into the UFC’s plans for the middleweight division.
“After beating Okami and Lombard now, (Boetsch) has put himself in a very, very good position,” said UFC president Dana White on Saturday night in Calgary.
“I wasn't coming in tonight to say this guy is gonna fight Anderson Silva. There's gonna be some match-ups in the 185-pound division that will decide who fights him.
“If we had to make a fight right now for Anderson because Anderson wants to fight in another two months, I'd do the Weidman fight.”
But that’s not the case. Currently the plan is to pit several top contenders against one another to come up with the best challenger.
The winner of Boetsch and Lombard was chief among the participants in that plan, but Boetsch’s broken foot will cause the UFC brass to go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments to the middleweight blueprint.
As for Boetsch, he’s obviously heard the criticisms of he and Lombard, but true to his blue-collar roots, he takes it in stride, patiently waiting for his time.
“The vibe in the room says no, (I don’t deserve a title shot),” Boetsch said. “But I'm ready for whoever. I train hard enough and if I keep beating enough tough people, I'll get that title shot. I'll do whatever it takes to get there.”