Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes.
For UFC veteran Tim Boetsch, dropping a weight class has opened the next chapter of his career, and he’s excited to see what the future holds. After his last outing ended in defeat, “The Barbarian” decided to drop down and try his heavy hands in the middleweight division.
“Honestly, it was the loss to Phil Davis that prompted the move. That fight really opened my eyes because I had a perfect training camp for that fight out here at AMC [Pankration in Kirkland, Washington] and had a good game plan, or at least I thought I did. Everything came together perfectly. I felt good and my body recovered well so I felt like I was going into that fight 100 percent ready. My confidence was super high and I ended up losing.
“That made me go back to the drawing board, and really the only thing I could see to change is the weight class. I talked to my manager to see if he thought we could get fights at middleweight, and he in turn asked if I could make 185 pounds. Since that decision was made directly after UFC 123, I have had plenty of time to get down to where I need to be and I think it was the right choice to make.”
“I’m an overall better conditioned athlete. There have been a lot of physical changes, but one of the most noticeable things is my physique. I’ve taken off some of the fat and I’m not carrying as much water as I did at light heavyweight. People are definitely noticing a difference.
“The performance is also there as well. I’m a better fighter at middleweight. I’m more efficient, lighter on my feet and I feel I’m just as strong at this new weight as I was at light heavyweight. Strength was my biggest concern with dropping down, but that hasn’t been the case at all. If anything I feel I’ve gotten stronger.”
His inaugural outing in the middleweight ranks will come against TUF winner Kendall Grove this weekend at UFC 130. While he’s had his share of ups and downs during his time in the UFC, Grove is widely respected as an opponent who always shows up to put on a show.
“There isn’t one particular aspect of his fighting style that concerns me. I just know that Kendall is going to show up to fight. This is a big fight for both of us, and I know that he’s going to show up ready for 15 hard minutes if that’s how long it goes.
“He’s shown in the past that he’s very tough and can go the distance while still fighting hard, so that’s the biggest factor that I’m considering coming into this fight. Kendall is always ready to go from start to finish, and he’s certainly a guy that if I make any mistakes, he’s going to be able to capitalize on them. I have to fight a pretty clean fight and make sure that I’m imposing my will on him, not the other way around.”
While Grove may be one of the division’s tallest, he is not known for using his length to keep opponents at a distance. Instead, he often chooses to use his long arms and legs to keep fighters locked into the clinch, utilizing knees and elbows to do damage from in tight.
“I think closing the distance on him is something I’ll be able to do if I choose. That being said, Kendall is going to have about eight inches of reach on me. If I can stand and finish him with striking, even with his range, I think that is going to make a bigger statement than doing what everybody expects me to do. His length and range are definitely a factor, but even though he is one of the tallest fighters in the weight class, he’s comfortable fighting in the clinch.
“I honestly see my strength and power being a factor in this fight. That is part of the reason I dropped to middleweight. I expect it to be a factor in every one of my fights at now because I can’t imagine too many middleweights who will want to stand in front of me and take my punches. Whether it’s a left hand or right; they’re both pretty heavy, so they are going to do damage.
“Kendall has shown some vulnerability to heavy hands in the past and I’m definitely looking to expose that again and land a big shot on him. It will be an interesting fight and I’m excited to see how it all works out.”
With the lightweight championship fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard being cancelled, this bout has been moved up to the Prelims Live broadcast on Spike TV, an opportunity Boetsch is excited to receive.
“It is absolutely motivating. You want to go out there and give your best, show your abilities so that everybody gets to see who you are as a fighter. That is always my goal whether or not it’s a fight on the preliminary card or on Spike TV. I can certainly say that since this fight is on Spike, there is some added motivation to go out there and finish my opponent.”
While UFC 130 marks the first time Boetsch competes in the middleweight division, the veteran plans on turning to the past as he takes the first step towards what he hopes will be a bright future in a new weight class.
“UFC can expect to catch a glimpse of the original `Barbarian,’ the one who came in and threw David Heath on his head. I’m really coming in to get back to my roots, back to that raw style where I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I’m going to push the pace from start to finish and there are going to be as many body slams as I can fit into a fight.
“I’m definitely looking to finish, as always. Whether by submission or knocking him out, I’m looking to finish Kendall Grove. I definitely want to make a statement that I’m here to stay, and that all of the other middleweights need to watch out.”