The Ultimate Fighting Championship will make a trip back down to raucous New Orleans, Louisiana this Saturday night for UFC Fight Night 68. There’s plenty to look forward to on this card, the co-main event between Matt Mitrione and Ben Rothwell should bring some surefire violence, Dustin Poirier vs Yancy Medeiros and Francisco Rivera vs Alex Caceres are two easy shoe-ins for Fight of the Night, and there’s the return of the once unknown bantamweight title challenger, Joe Soto.
Quality may be a tad strong for this card, but there are definitely entertaining, semi-meaningful matches to watch June 6. The main event is where MMA fans start to scratch their heads and question the UFC’s puzzling decision to put a main event between a mixed martial arts legend on his way out, and a once upon a time contender who who seems incapable of getting back into title contention.
THE BATTLE FOR ULTIMATE BADASSERY
To be fair to Dan Henderson and Tim Boetsch, it’s not their fault they were burdened with headlining this event. Daniel Cormier and Ryan Bader were originally penciled in for top billing, but the bout was ultimately scrapped after Cormier withdrew from the contest to fight Anthony Johnson for the vacant light heavyweight title.
Cormier is now champion, and it looks like the fight with Bader might be rescheduled as a title fight later this year. So for now, us poor MMA spectators are left with this strange concoction of an athletic competition, but don’t fret, this fight between Henderson and Boetsch doesn’t have to be as sad and insignificant as we want to make it out to be.
What is there to make of this? What possible reason is there to watch this marginally meaningful fight? Because this fight transcends the middleweight division and any rankings. Henderson vs. Boetsch is in a strange place on the spectacle/high-level spectrum of mixed martial arts, not quite ridiculous enough to be a full-blown spectacle, nowhere near enough significance to be considered high-level. The confusion and disinterest surrounding this fight is understandable, but don’t let the mundane story line of top 10 opponents battling for a title shot rob you of your possible enjoyment of this fight.
Dan Henderson is a true mixed martial arts legend and one of the greatest American fighters to ever compete in the sport. Tim Boetsch is a former contender with a powerhouse figure that can win a fight in the blink of an eye. On paper, the matchup doesn’t seem so bad, in reality, it just feels wrong. Both men will likely never challenge for a UFC title, they’re both way past their prime, and their combined record over their last 10 fights is 3-7. Yet, a sick, strange part deep inside your being wants to see these two men inflict heavy amounts of violence upon each other.
Henderson is America personified, Boetsch is a weird offshoot of a relative we all know and love. The matchup between the two is a battle for being the baddest of Americans. Tim Boetsch, the former social worker turned cage fighter. Dan Henderson, former Olympian turned MMA legend. Just the life events of these two guys are beyond interesting, but the Octagon is a place to exchange blood and bodily harm, not tales of life achievements. In essence, this fight is between America’s coolest dad in “Hendo” and America’s badass uncle in “The Barbarian.”
COOL DAD vs BADASS UNCLE
It’s not really praised or looked up to, to walk out to a Toby Keith song, nor does one get taken seriously for coming out to Kid Rock’s “American Badass,” yet, these men pull it off cause it’s fitting, they’re unapologetically American, so it doesn’t come off as corny and ironic.
If for some strange reason the ridiculous nature of America’s cool dad versus America’s badass uncle isn’t an endearing and intriguing enough narrative for you to tune in to Fox Sports 1 this Saturday, just think of it in sole terms of competitiveness. Yes, Dan Henderson is 44 years old, and yes, the ever-growing talent in the middleweight division has cast Tim Boetsch by the wayside, but that doesn’t take away from these combatants ability to bring some shocking levels of brute violence.
No MMA fan has forgotten the disdainful, inhumane way that Boetsch tossed David Heath, or the H-Bomb “Hendo” landed on Michael Bisping, subsequently followed by the homing missile-like right hand he unloaded on his semi-lifeless body — which coincidentally enough, is now the logo embroidered on Hendo’s t-shirts.
Moreover, the lightning fast ability of turnarounds that both men possess is unparalleled. Boetsch going full reptile on Yushin Okami, Henderson shoving “Shogun’s” nose to the back of his skull, after basically getting knocked out twice in the first two rounds.
Saturday’s main event is by all accounts, a pick ’em fight, at this point in time, and can play out in various ways, but the potential level of violence and excitement is quite high. So raise your glass, and make a toast to the two warriors stepping into the cage Saturday night. Let the better man prevail, and regardless of the outcome, we’ll keep being fans of America’s favorite adopted relatives.