By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
Tim Boetsch's four-fight winning streak came to a halt Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Boetsch, the Northumberland resident who owns and operates a gym in Sunbury, lost at UFC 155 to Costa Philippou by TKO. Referee Kim Winslow stopped the fight at 2:11 of the third and final round.
With the defeat, Boetsch falls to 16-5. It was his first loss since he moved to middleweight in 2011. Boetsch was originally scheduled to face Chris Weidman at UFC 155, but a shoulder injury forced Weidman out. Philippou (12-2), a teammate of Weidman's, stepped into the breach, and the hard-striking Greek Cypriot -- formerly a heralded boxing prospect in Europe -- picked up the biggest win of his MMA career.
Also at UFC 155, Cain Velasquez regained the heavyweight title with a one-sided, unanimous decision over Brazilian Junior dos Santos -- who had taken the belt from Velasquez with a knockout in November 2011 -- and Jim Miller earned a decision over Joe Lauzon in a bloody lightweight battle that many are calling a fight-of-the-year candidate.
Boetsch had a strong start to Saturday's fight. Many cageside observers declared him the winner of round one. Boetsch had Philippou up against the cage for the first two minutes of the fight, and later took the Cypriot down.
Winslow stood the fighters up when she deemed neither was working hard on the ground. That led Boetsch to knocking Philippou down with a front kick in the waning seconds of the first round.
Things soon went south for Boetsch, however. On the telecast between the first and second rounds, Boetsch could be heard telling his coach, Matt Hume, that something was injured, leading commentator Joe Rogan to theorize that Boetsch had broken his hand.
But things soon got worse for Boetsch, as an inadvertent headbutt in the second round left him with a nasty gash on his forehead. With blood flowing into his eye from the cut, Boetsch had trouble finding his distance against Philippou.
Then, as Boetsch was moving toward Philippou along the cage, Philippou accidentally poked him in the eye, forcing Winslow to suspend the fight for a few moments. Boetsch said he could continue, but he clearly wasn't the same fighter he had been in the first round.
In his corner before the third round, Boetsch could be heard saying that he couldn't see. Hume asked him if he wanted to stop the fight, but the former Lock Haven University wrestler declared that he wanted to continue.
By the third round, with his sight clearly an issue, Boetsch tried to resort to pulling guard (i.e., trying to take the fight to the ground with Philippou on top of him), but Philippou wanted the fight to remain standing. Eventually, Philippou got on top of Boetsch and began raining blows until Winslow called a stop to the action.
Boetsch was taken to the hospital after the fight. He announced via Twitter that he was flying back to Pennsylvania on Sunday.