By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch is looking at another curveball.
For the second time in 10 months, the Sunbury-based UFC fighter was forced to change opponents partway through his training camp. This time, he'll get former All-American wrestler C.B. Dollaway when they square off in the cage Saturday at UFC 166 in Houston.
Originally, Boetsch (16-6) was set to face Luke Rockhold. But the former Strikeforce middleweight champion had to pull out because of an injury, so now Boetsch will take on Dollaway.
"That's what I'm disappointed about,' Boetsch said by phone Monday from his training camp outside Seattle. "A win over Rockhold would have instantly gotten me back (up the middleweight ladder)."
Rockhold is currently ranked sixth among the UFC's 185-pounders, while Boetsch sits at ninth. Dollaway (13-4) is not ranked.
By agreeing to fight Dollaway, Boetsch had to change his gameplan. Rockhold is a strong kickboxer, while Dollaway is a wrestler. It's not unlike Boetsch's dilemma last December at UFC 155, when he was preparing to face a wrestler in Chris Weidman. After Weidman pulled out with an injury, Boetsch had to go in against former Golden Gloves boxer Costa Philippou. Philippou won by TKO in the third.
"We did have a couple of weeks to change the game plan (for Dollaway)," Boetsch said. "Rockhold is a very well-known kickboxer. Wrestling is his weak point...Now I have the complete opposite. I have a wrestler whose weak point is his striking."
Although an accomplished wrestler himself at Lock Haven University, Boetsch has become a feared striker inside the Octagon.
"I've been a striker my entire life," he said. "I just have to stop the takedown and let the hands go. I should come out on top with that formula."
Although he won his first four fights at middleweight after dropping down from light-heavyweight, Boetsch is currently on a two-fight losing streak. Following his loss to Philippou, he fell to Mark Munoz by unanimous decision back in July.
"I'm in a tough spot career-wise," he said. "I'm thinking with this fight, I'll end the year with the win and get the momentum going for next year, get me back where I want to be."
Boetsch says that he's never met Dollaway, but that doesn't mean he's not familiar with him. The former Arizona State Sun Devil was a runner-up on season seven of "The Ultimate Fighter."
"A lot of people want to see him get beat up," said Boetsch, referring to what he calls Dollaway's "cocky" attitude. "He has been on my radar -- not that I want to test myself against him as much as I want to beat him up."
The main card of UFC 166 -- which features a heavyweight title fight between champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos -- is only available via pay per view (Saturday night at 10), but the matchup between Boetsch and Dollaway will be available on basic cable. It's part of the preflight card on Fox Sports 1. Boetsch's fight should start between 9 and 9:35 Saturday night.