Tim Boetsch didn't exactly make a convincing case for a UFC middleweight title shot.
Unlike Chris Weidman's emphatic win over
Mark Munoza few weeks prior, Boetsch's close victory over Hector Lombard at Saturday's UFC 149 event won't have fans clamoring for his immediate shot at champion Anderson Silva.
UFC president Dana White, though, is willing to give the "Barbarian" a pass.
"An impressive win's going to give somebody a title shot," White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I'm looking for a guy who goes out and performs like Weidman. You go in, and you're ranked low in the top 10, and you take out No. 2 or 3 the way you did – that's what I'm excited about."
Boetsch (16-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC), though, only barely squeaked by Hector Lombard (31-3-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), a former Bellator champion who made his promotional debut on the strength of a 25-fight unbeaten streak. In the pay-per-view co-headliner at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Boetsch picked away at his flatfooted opponent and got the judges' nod via 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28 scores.
Boetsch, who scored a dramatic come-from-behind victory over perennial contender Yushin Okami in his previous bout, has now won four consecutive fights and eight of his past nine.
"I think you like at a guy like Lombard, he comes in on a 20-fight winning streak, and the fight was horrible," White said. "But if you look at a guy like Boetsch, Boetsch is this underdog. He came out of nowhere and beats Yushin Okami. ... He (now) beats a guy on a 20-fight win streak, and he beat one of the best 185-pounders in the world now for a long time. Again, the positive out of the negative. Boetsch won the fight."
A division once void of any real contenders has quickly become what is arguably the UFC's most compelling. In addition to Weidman and Boetsch, Alan Belcher is un-booked and arguably worthy of a shot.
Michael Bispingmeets fellow contender Brian Stann at UFC 152, ex-champ Vitor Belfortis on the mend following surgery, and despite a recent title loss, Sonnen still remains a possible and marketable opponent for the champ down the line. Even former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evanshas hinted at a possible move down to 185 pounds.
But as UFC 149's post-event press conference wore on, Boetsch's title worthiness appeared in question. And the fighter, who believes he broke a foot in the second round of the fight, knew it.
"The vibe in the room says no (I won't get a title shot), but I'm ready for whoever," he said. "I train hard enough, and if I keep beating enough people, I'll get that title shot, and I'll prove what I need to do. I know I can do it. As soon as this foot heals up and I can get back to training, I'm going to grind it out. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get there."
Boetsch was a long shot for an immediate title fight even if he had defeated Lombard in convincing fashion. It's even more unlikely following the narrow victory.
White, though, isn't holding it against him. Boetsch will get another big fight, and he still has a chance to fight for the belt sooner rather than later.
"After beating Okami and Lombard now, this guy has put himself in a very, very good position," White said.