The word “choke” in a most athletic senses has come to mean something more mental than physical.
But in some combat sports, the word still primarily defines a specific physical activity in which the successful choker emerges victorious and the chokee wakes up seconds later to fight another day.
Guillotine chokes, rear-naked chokes, leg triangle chokes and arm triangle chokes are among the numerous submission weapons available to mixed martial arts practitioners, as is the reality that said weapons may leave even the toughest competitors suddenly sleeping if applied to them.
Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch largely has escaped such submission tactics during a 26-fight professional MMA career that currently has him ranked 13th in the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ middleweight division.
But “The Barbarian”, currently training for a June 6 battle with Dan Henderson on the main card of UFC Fight Night 68 in New Orleans, Louisiana, vividly recalls his most recent experience on the receiving end of such a hold.
Boetsch (18-8) had used his striking game to win the first round of a scheduled three-round battle with Brazilian Thales Leites at UFC 183 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in late January.
But Leites had a not-so-secret weapon in waiting, an arm triangle choke hold he had used in several previous victories. The arm triangle is a submission attempt in which a person is choked with his own arm on one side and the opponent’s arm on the other side of the neck.
When Leites first attempted it during the second round, Boetsch escaped.
But not the second time, enabling Leites to secure a “technical submission” at 3:45 of the second round.
“I came out of that last fight perfectly fine except I was choked unconscious, but once you wake up you’re fine,” recalled Boetsch, a 4-to-1 underdog entering the Leites fight.
“It’s a weird thing. You know when you’re in trouble. I was seeing red right before I went out. I could have tapped at that point, but I would have still lost the fight. I actually had a nice little dream in there. I had a dream I was fishing and I felt the warm sun on my face. Then I heard the doctor yelling at me and I woke up. It was just a few seconds and then I came right back.”
Despite the unequivocal ending of the fight, Boetsch and Leites each earned a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus — the second straight time Boetsch has earned a post-fight bonus for his work in the Octagon.
“Tim dominated him in the standup, and then he got caught and he got caught in the one thing that everybody knew (Laites) is the best in the world at,” said Marcus Davis, Boetsch’s trainer at Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer.
“He got caught in it, he got out of it, and then he got caught in it again and you know you’re not going to get out of it again.”