BREWER, Maine — Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is about to get his mixed martial arts homecoming off to a head start — but it will be anything but a vacation in Vacationland.
The Lincolnville native and former four-time state wrestling champion from Camden-Rockport High School will train for his Aug. 16 Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center just across the Penobscot River at the Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy owned and operated by fellow former UFC contender Marcus Davis.
The 33-year-old Boetsch, who now lives in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, typically trains for his bouts at AMC Pankration in Seattle, Washington. But with his upcoming middleweight fight against Brad Tavares on the East Coast and his familiarity with Davis, Boetsch contacted Davis about staging his pre-fight camp in Maine.
“I worked with Tim before he was in the UFC, and when I was in the UFC I worked with Tim. With us both being from Maine I’ve known him for a long time,” said Davis, a former boxer who is 22-11 in mixed martial arts, including 9-6 during an UFC tenure that began with an appearance on Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter television series in 2005 and continued through 2011.
“It’s an absolute honor for the guys in our gym to have the chance to train with him and help him get ready for his next fight.”
Boetsch, currently 14th in the UFC middleweight (185-pound) rankings, was rated as high as sixth in the division when he won four consecutive fights after dropping down from light-heavyweight competition.
But three defeats in his last four fights — most recently a first-round to fifth-ranked Luke Rockhold on April 26 at UFC 172 in Baltimore, Maryland — have left Boetsch’s record at 17-7 overall and 8-6 in the UFC and placed a sense of urgency on his upcoming battle with the 26-year-old Tavares.
But Davis is optimistic that Boetsch has the tools to begin a new winning streak.
“Tim brings a lot into the cage,” said Davis. “He’s not only a great wrestler but he’s improved his submission game working with Matt Hume (at AKA Pankration) and he is a very powerful striker.
“When Tim puts his hands and legs on you it’s a pretty humbling experience. He’s not known as ‘The Barbarian” for nothing.”
A native Hawaiian now living in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tavares is 12-3 but like Boetsch is coming off a loss, a three-round unanimous decision to Yosi Romero on April 19 in Orlando, Florida. That defeat snapped a five-match winning streak for the former semifinalist on The Ultimate Fighter 11 in 2010.
Davis said he has been studying video of Tavares’ previous bouts in preparation for aiding Boetsch’s training effort.
“The main thing is to see if there are some things we can do to take advantage of any chinks in (Tavares’) armor,” Davis said.
Boetsch’s Team Irish camp will last six weeks leading into the fight, two weeks shorter than the typical training camp.
“But he’s already started training, so when he gets here he’ll already be in shape,” Davis said. “Working with Tim it’s not like I’m really going to be teaching him some super-special techniques. I’m going to just do what I can to help him win the fight, to take the tools he has, help him be stronger, faster and quicker with them and get his timing down because nothing beats timing.”
Davis said Boetsch’s training regimen will include sparring but will focus on conditioning work.
“If Tim can fight his fight and not let Tavares dictate how the fight is fought,” he said, “if he can use his striking game to get him on the ground and turn it into a dogfight — you don’t want to get into a dogfight with a Barbarian.”