This is number forty-two in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re pleased to feature veteran UFC fighter, Tim Boetsch. After Boetsch debuted at UFC 81, he established himself as a good light heavyweight fighter. But after losing to Phil Davis at UFC 123, Boetsch dropped down to middleweight, and is now considered a great fighter and championship contender. His upcoming fight with Mark Munoz, at UFC 162 in July, will be his next challenge. Please enjoy the conversation below.
Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts/combat sports, and how did it become more than just a hobby for you?
Tim Boetsch: I started wrestling at a very early age. My friends and I would wrestle and fight in the front yard for hours at a time. It was all in good fun. We weren't trying to hurt each other too bad.
JB: What do you recall about your first professional MMA fight, and how prepared do you feel you were at the time?
TB: My college roommate and good friend, Mike Ciesnolevicz, called me up and asked me if I was in shape. I wasn't. I was lifting weights all the time and doing zero cardio. I was not even close to being ready. I couldn't throw a jab. It was pure survival mode for me when I got in there.
JB: You debuted in the UFC with a TKO victory over David Heath at UFC 81. How did your first fight in the UFC compare with all your previous professional fights?
TB: Honestly, it was quite similar to my other fights, just on a larger stage. I went into that fight expecting to win. I think guys get too caught up in the production of the big shows and lose focus on the fact that it’s just a fight.
JB: You moved from fighting at light heavyweight to fighting at middleweight after your loss to Phil Davis at UFC 123. How difficult was that transition initially, and what did you change to enable you to fight at a lighter weight?
TB: Initially, the transition was very tough. My body has adapted to a lighter set point now, which is a huge help. The main change I had to make was increasing my activity level and staying on top of my cardio.
JB: You are 4-1 in your middleweight run in the UFC. Of the wins, three were decisions and one was an amazing comeback TKO of Yushin Okami in the third round. How satisfying was that victory, at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan, and what was the experience of fighting there like for you?
TB: That was an awesome experience all the way around. Going to Japan was exciting and very interesting. Being the underdog in my opponent’s hometown, and coming back in the third, it felt like a real-life Rocky movie. I will never forget that fight.
JB: Your last fight was a TKO loss to Constantinos Philippou at UFC 155. How did that loss affect you and what do you think of that fight in retrospect?
TB: That loss really opened my eyes. And I will not make the same mistake again.
JB: You're scheduled to face Mark Munoz, on July 6th, at UFC 162. What do you think of that matchup and do you have any history with Munoz or his team?
TB: I have no history with Mark. He is a great fighter with a strong wrestling pedigree, and he will be a very tough opponent. I am very excited for the fight, and I think it is one that people will be talking about for a while afterwards.
JB: The middleweight division of the UFC has some of the most accomplished and dangerous fighters in the sport. Who are some of the other middleweights that you especially respect and who are some that you would like to fight or rematch?
TB: I want to fight them all. For some reason, I have been bumped out of the top ten on most rankings. I want to get back in there and prove that I'm at the top of the food chain.
JB: You are still in the mix to contend for the middleweight championship, and I'd guess that the majority of your focus is on training and fighting. However, you are an educated young man with a family. What beyond MMA interests you, and what plans or goals do you have for the future?
TB: My family is my top priority. My wife, Jade, and I have our hands full with our three kids. Making sure our kids are raised right is the most important job a parent has. If that weren't enough, I own a gym where I train and train other athletes. Someday I hope to have a stable of fighters competing at the highest level. I also own a landscaping business. I want that to continue to grow and be successful.
With what little free time I have, I enjoy anything outdoors. My son, Christian, and I had a great first day of turkey season this year, when we killed a nice bird right in the back yard of the house we are remodeling.
JB: Last question, Tim, and thanks for taking the time to do this. What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?
TB: For me, fighting is the perfect career. I love to train. I love to push myself. I like everything about it. The sport has allowed me to do things that a "regular" job never would have. Without that phone call from Mike C, and my wife somehow agreeing that it seemed like a good idea to fly to Iowa and fight, I don't know where I would be.
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