In 2008, Tim Boetsch was the next big thing in the UFC. Two years later, he's back and ready to pick up where he left off.
Back when he made his Octagon debut on less than two weeks’ notice against David Heath at UFC 81 in early 2008, only the hardest of the hardcore knew who Tim Boetsch was.
Four minutes and 52 seconds later, that wasn’t the case anymore, and it has everything to do with the way ‘The Barbarian’ finished the fight. Not with a slick submission or a well-timed counterpunch, but by throwing Heath to the mat like a ragdoll before ending the bout with strikes.
Overnight, everyone wanted nothing more than to see the soft-spoken Maine native back in action against anyone and everyone at 205 pounds. But three fights later, Boetsch was out of the organization after losses to Matt Hamill and Jason Brilz that sandwiched a UFC 88 win over Michael Patt.
“It was kind of a shocker because it was at the beginning of a four fight contract and the Brilz fight was the first of the four,” said Boetsch, who lost a three round decision to Brilz at UFC 96 in March of 2009. “So it was definitely was a shock to me. I understood that my Brilz performance was subpar, but I expected an opportunity to prove that I belonged in the UFC, but as it were, that’s not how it worked out. I don’t have any hard feelings, but getting cut was a surprise.”
It wasn’t the way things were supposed to pan out for the former Lock Haven University wrestler, especially considering that his only loss pre-UFC was to former world title challenger Vladimir Matyushenko, but now Boetsch had to deal with the worst case scenario for any athlete – starting over.
“I was upset and bummed out and all those emotions,” he said, “but looking back on getting cut, I’m actually kind of thankful that it happened in a way because I was able to take a big step back and evaluate everything I was doing my first time around in the UFC and maybe some of the things that I wasn’t doing right as far as training and other parts of the business end of MMA, and it allowed me to make positive changes that I knew would set me in a better place when I got back to the UFC.”
One of the changes had to do with his training situation, and when manager Monte Cox suggested that the Pennsylvania resident head out to Washington to train with Matt Hume and his AMC team, Boetsch took the advice.
And he hasn’t left since.
“Rich (Franklin) was out here prepping for his fight with Wanderlei (Silva) and that was the first time I met Matt Hume and experienced some of his training and his training philosophies,” said Boetsch. “As soon as I got out here, it clicked and it seemed like I was on the same page with everybody out here, especially Matt. I get where he’s coming from with his fight philosophy and what he expects from his fighters. He’s got that wrestling background, and I definitely lean towards that type of style where you’re trying to keep pressure on your opponent at all times. So there were just a lot of things about his training, his mentality and the way he does things out here that made a lot of sense to me. It was the perfect fit, and it was one of the few camps where I can get everything I need in one camp and I don’t have to bounce around.”
The only downside for the 29-year old Boetsch is being away from his wife Jade and two-year old son Christian, a family that will grow even more in the future, as the couple is expecting another child. It’s part of the gig though, especially if Boetsch wants to one day wear a title belt around his waist.
“I’m very fortunate that my wife is understanding,” said Boetsch. “She knows what I have to do to be successful but that being said, it is a very difficult thing, and leaving the whole gang there, I definitely miss them. Being away from them for an extended period of time can start to wear on you mentally, and that’s part of the discipline of being a fighter. Its part of the game, and the way I explain it to my wife is that I’m not gonna be fighting forever. I’ve got a few years where I’m able to do this, so we need to take advantage of it, and if I do things correctly, down the road I’ll be able to spend as much time as I want with my family. We need to take care of business now and we’ll reap the benefits later.”
And since his first stint with the UFC, Boetsch has taken care of business ‘Barbarian’ style, submitting Aaron Stark and Rudy Lindsey and knocking out Reese Shaner. The streak got him a phone call and another fight – in the UFC.
“My goal was to be back in the UFC by the end of the year so I guess it’s a little bit earlier than expected, but not too far off schedule,” he said. “I won three fights in a row, so I had an idea that it might be getting close, so I was definitely excited when I got the call.”
His welcome back present was Thiago Silva, but when the Brazilian bomber hurt his back recently, newcomer Todd Brown was brought in on late notice. Coming in on late notice is something Boetsch is obviously familiar with, but he’s not about to let Brown make him his David Heath. Instead, Boetsch wants to come out with the type of performance that will make fans sit up and take notice much like they did over two years ago.
“I think it’s gonna be a reminder of the guy that came to the UFC and beat up David Heath on ten days’ notice,” said Boetsch of this weekend’s bout. “I think they’re gonna look at this fight and be like, ‘oh yeah, that guy is tough and he is deserving of being in the UFC.’”