When some late schedule changes shuffled the lineup for UFC 130 in Las Vegas two weeks ago, Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch suddenly found himself preparing for a prime time fight.
Boetsch’s middleweight matchup with Kendall Grove Saturday night is still on the undercard, but it’s also now the leadoff fight of four that will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. on the Spike network.
“I’m just super excited. The only reason that happened is the main card fell apart and they had to kind of reshuffle things,” said Boetsch, 30.
Not that there weren’t already plenty of reasons for Boetsch to be excited and nervous about the fight, his seventh over two separate UFC contract periods and 16th professional mixed-martial arts fight overall.
“Absolutely. This is the last fight on my contract, so I want to win and have it be a decisive win,: said the Camden-Rockport High School graduate.
Still, even knowing that many family members and friends will be watching him fight his first MMA fight as a middleweight live on Spike doesn’t really ratchet his level of nervousness up.
“I would have had to put on a great show and knock the guy out to get some notice, so this almost kind of relaxes me to know I have this exposure,” Boetsch explained. “Now I just have to win, but I want to do it in a decisive way.”
The former social worker who used to work with adolescent males with behavior problems in a group home is the only Mainer still fighting in the UFC now that Marcus Davis, Dale Hartt and Tim Sylvia are out, is 3-3 in his UFC fights and is coming off a loss to Phil Davis via a second-round submission on Nov. 20.
“I want to represent my home state well and let them know there are still some tough fighters coming out of Maine,” Boetsch said. “And I want another contract. This is something I want to continue to do and would like to keep doing for some time to come. This is definitely my career and I can support my family doing this.”
Boetsch and wife Jade live in Pennsylvania, where they met in college, with children Christian (3) and Finley (4 months). The Boetsches have the makings of an athletic family, as his wife is a former rugby player, her father is a former wrestling coach, and her brother is a former wrestler.
A four-time state wrestling champion at Camden-Rockport, Boetsch went on to wrestle for Division I power Lock Haven University. His college roommate, former UFC fighter Mike Ciesnolivicz, encouraged him to give MMA a try after college and Boetsch, who now owns a gym and works as a trainer, was hooked.
“I happened really quickly for me. I had my first amateur fight out west and then had my first pro fight two months later,” Boetsch recalled. “It took just a year and a half to get into the UFC.”
Grove (14-8) presents a unique size challenge for Boetsch as the tallest fighter in the UFC middleweight division at 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds. Boetsch measures 6 feet, 205 pounds.
“He has a real edge in reach over me, so he’s going to try and outpoint me and keep me on the edge of his jab,” Boetsch said. “I believe fight night I will have the weight advantage by the time the fight starts as the heavier and more powerful.
“For me, the simpler we keep it, the better it is for me. I’m bringing the fight to him. If I can take him down, I will.”