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Are Oddsmakers Underestimating Tim Boetsch?

(That’s just mean, Tim)

The first time I met Tim Boetsch was one day before he took on Vladimir Matyushenko in the IFL semi-finals last summer. Boetsch had been called on as a late replacement and, despite having fought just five days earlier, he accepted a match with arguably the league’s toughest pound-for-pound fighter.

Here, I thought as I looked at him from across the room at the weigh-in, is a man who doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into.

Imagine my surprise when Boetsch not only went the distance with Matyushenko, but even had “The Janitor” in trouble once or twice. This is why I wasn’t surprised when, at UFC 81, Boetsch spiked David Heath like football in the first round and then finished him moments later.

Now the UFC has decided to see just how many surprises Boetsch has in him, and they’ve matched him up with TUF standout Matt Hamill on tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night card.

The betting line on this match has Hamill as a comfortable favorite (-200 for Hamill, +160 for Boetsch, according to Bodog), but when you take a moment to analyze this matchup, you’ll see that could very easily turn out to be a mistake.

Hamill gets a lot of praise for his raw strength and wrestling ability, and that’s fair. But Boetsch was a top-notch college wrestler himself, and he’s shown the ability to translate that power and explosiveness into MMA.

When you examine their records, it’s hard to see why Boetsch wouldn’t get the edge in terms of experience. Boetsch is 7-1 since turning pro after his wrestling career at Lock Haven University. Hamill is 3-1, all in the UFC. Boetsch may not have as many UFC fights, but he did rack up eight fights in a year and a half, only one of which (his lone loss to Matyushenko) went the distance.

When you consider how little we’ve seen of Hamill – aside from his performance on TUF, the true significance of which is always difficult to gauge – it’s hard for me to understand why Boetsch should be the underdog here. If he’s a good enough wrestler to hang with Matyushenko, who is world class, it makes you wonder if Hamill’s greatest strength won’t be canceled out.

The strongest argument you can make in Hamill’s favor is to cite the showing he had against Micheal Bisping in his controversial decision loss. But other than that, this smacks of what I’ll go ahead and term exposure bias.

Hamill got built up into a deaf Superman by Tito Ortiz and the producers of The Ultimate Fighter, and since he’s been on TV more we might have a tendency to assume that he’s a better fighter. This, my friends, is crazy talk.

I’m not saying Hamill isn’t good — clearly, he is — but remember that he had zero fights when he went on TUF. That lends credence to the theory that he was selected for the show, at least in part, for his interesting story. While he seems to have improved dramatically since then, Boetsch will still be a true test. He may not be as familiar to fans or oddsmakers, but his credentials suggest that he deserves to be taken seriously.

Just the fact that he took that fight with Matyushenko should say something about his character. As Vladdy himself admitted after fighting Boetsch, “One thing I can say, he’s got balls.”

Keep your eye on this one. Boetsch is an underdog with a lot of ways to win.


Cagepotato Comments

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Matt D.- April 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm
I hope you're right. I took Boetsch at +160 and feel good about it. Bodog seems to like the +160 line too. 8 of the fights have had their line move over the last 2 days, but the Boetsch fight has not.
Bill C.- April 1, 2008 at 4:15 am
I'm going with Boetsch in this fight. He was incredibly impressive in his UFC debut against Heath, and from what I can tell, he had a great run before UFC, too.
Either way, I think this is going to be a great fight.
Rich S.- April 1, 2008 at 4:06 am
and sirch.. i remember what you're talking about.. Hamill was the cockiest bastard on that show [with the exception of Ed Herman who, from the beginning, was saying he was the best in the house] he was sooo cocky in practice that it really pissed Bisping off..
Rich S.- April 1, 2008 at 4:03 am
good point alex..
but hamill hung in the whole three rounds and didn't seem to get tired till the end.. in the fight with bisping..

i'm just swaying back and forth.. maybe i need to go change my UFC FANTASY PICKS.. ahhhh.. it might be too late.. idk..
sirch6002- April 1, 2008 at 1:36 am
lol glad to see im not the only one who remembered that one...... also when he got pissed and almost knocked out (if i remember correctly) when bisping hit a little harder in sparring with him on the show.....
Alex- March 31, 2008 at 10:40 pm
Rich, this is the same matt hammil who got so gassed in his one fight in TUF, that they had to send him to hospital? I think tim will be ok on that front :D
bump- March 31, 2008 at 9:30 pm
I gotta agree with Steve-O. His front kicks are brutal.
Rich S.- March 31, 2008 at 9:27 pm
i saw that live.. and i was SCREAMING..
i don't see how, in an instant, Herb Dean went from "the man who stops fights wayyyyy too early" to "the man who won't stop a fight even if the other guy is dead"

i don't know.. i originally had Boetsch beating Matt Hamill.. but i think Hamill will tire him out.. and pick up a decision..
Steve-O- March 31, 2008 at 9:04 pm
Boetsch is a beast, I can't wait to see him front kick Matt Hamill right outta the cage
Leland Roling- March 31, 2008 at 8:36 pm
Yes, Tim Boestch is being underdogged in this one, and I'll be happy to try to make some good money off the matchup. I'm a bit surprised.
Jay- March 31, 2008 at 8:28 pm
Jeet Kun Do Bitches!