It’s nice to be Tim Boetsch again. Not that losing three straight in 2015-16 changed the middleweight contender’s personality or made his friends and family abandon him, but winning two in a row and landing a UFC 208 main card slot against the No. 3-ranked Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on Saturday is a lot better.
Welcome back from purgatory, “Barbarian.”
“It's never a fun place to be,” he laughed during Wednesday’s media day at Barclays Center. “But you find out a lot about yourself when you're there. Just being able to adapt and to work through that, it's a character building thing, and I'm ready to go.”
What marked Boetsch’s pair of wins over Josh Samman and Rafael Natal as two of his best ever was the return to the idea that while there are rules and a referee in the Octagon, it’s also a fight. And fighting is something the former Lock Haven University wrestler has got down pat.
“That's what (coach and UFC veteran) Marcus (Davis) has helped me realize,” Boetsch said. “I'm not the technical fighter that maybe I wanted to be or tried to be for a little while. I'm a fighter, and that's why I'm good at this sport. There are so many ways to win, one of them being putting somebody under a lot of pressure until they break. So I go back to my wrestling, and that's what makes great wrestlers, being able to keep pressure on somebody, even when they're smashing on you. And obviously that lends well to fighting. And that formula's not gonna change. That's my formula for success - high pressure, fighting, doing whatever it takes to win, even if it's ugly.”
Beating “Jacare” is a tough hill to climb, but the 36-year-old is up for the challenge. In fact, as he sat across from his opponent and all-time middleweight great Anderson Silva and next to co-main eventer and fellow middleweight standout Derek Brunson, Boetsch didn’t look star struck. He looked like he belonged.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “And that's something that kind of shifted. When I first started, I came in and you're running into Chuck Liddell backstage and you're like, 'Oh, there's the superstar.' That's all gone away. I belong here, I know that I do, and there's nobody here that carries that superstar status glow that they had when I first got in here. I realize that they're all just people and they don't stand up well when you hit them on the chin with the right hand.”
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