Passion, purpose and persistence – these three words are central to the career and life story of UFC fighter Tim Boetsch. He is currently ranked as the #7 Middleweight MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter in the world – a formidable achievement by any standard. The story of how he got there is one of love for the sport, a story of early successes, set-backs and eventual triumphs, but Tim Boetsch isn’t content with the level of success he’s attained. He has higher goals still, goals he resolutely plans to reach.
Tim was born in Lincolnville, Maine, January 28th, 1981. His love of wrestling began early, in grade school, with Tim watching and admiring his older brother Aaron’s wrestling abilities.
“I was very athletic as a kid,” Tim says, “and I saw my brother start wrestling as early as I could remember. It was something I always wanted to do. I was certainly an athletic kid, and a high energy kid. My brother is ten years older than me, and he was my first hero, I really looked up to him. He was a wrestler, and that was something that I aspired to be, and I knew I would be one too.”
At Lincolnville Central Grade School, Tim played most sports – baseball, basketball and soccer – but it was wrestling that had the strongest pull on him. He started wrestling at six years old, and by the time he got to high school, Camden-Rockport High in Camden, Maine, Tim knew he was a one sport athlete. With his focus firmly on wrestling, his passion for the sport bore great results, confirming for him that the sport was a good fit. “I was four time time State champion wrestler in high school,” he says. “I won just about every tournament I went to.”
His home state hasn’t forgotten those past accomplishments. This summer Tim will be inducted into the Maine Wrestling Hall of Fame, August 4th, the ceremony being held in the town of Bath.
His high school wrestling awards secured him a wrestling scholarship at Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania, where he met his wife, Jade. His wrestling record there, however, was in stark contrast to the heady successes of high school.
“I had very mixed results as a collegiate wrestler,” he says. “I was never able to settle into the right weight class. I felt like I was capable of doing more as an athlete than I did in college.”
An unexpected phone call, however, started Tim in a new direction, a different destiny than that of a wrestler. “My college roommate, Mike Sechalevich,” Tim recalls, “who was also on the wrestling team, was very much into martial arts, and after he left college, he went out to train with Pat Miletich, considered one of the best MMA/ Mixed Martial Arts coaches in the world, in Iowa. Mike called me up, in Pennsylvania, where I’d been working as landscaper, and asked me if he wanted to come out to Iowa for a couple of fights.”
Tim said yes. The characteristic of readily accepting a difficult challenge is a strong theme running through Tim’s story. He went out to Iowa and, without any formal MMA training, fought in two fights, remarkably winning both of them. Coming back in Pennsylvania, Tim started training with his friend Mike’s father Wade, who was a long-time wrestling coach.
“He wasn’t a Martial Arts coach,” Tim recalls, “but he was a great coach, he knows how to motivate athletes, knows how to get guys in top condition, and make guys tough. And so that’s he did, and what I was.”
Another phone call out of the blue, a challenge no one else wanted, would cause the next big change in his life and put him into main ring. Characteristically, Tim readily accepted the challenge, one that many other fighters had rejected out of fear of failure.
“I turned pro right away after those first two fights, and I won my first six pro fights in a row, finished all my opponents. Then I got a call to fight Vladimir Matyushenko. At that time he was considered a top ten level fighter in the world and the best fighter in the IFL. (International Fight League) Nobody had wanted to fight him because he’d been finishing everybody in the first round and nobody could handle him. But I took the fight. I had three days notice before fighting him.”
Tim lost the fight on a decision, but it was a close enough fight that some people felt the decision should have gone to him. In any case, his performance was striking enough to win him a place in the UFC. Tim’s debut fight in the UFC was UFC 81, against a heavily favored David Heath.
“I took that fight on short notice too, about ten days, and he (Heath) was favored by far, considered a far better striker – but I out-struck him and knocked him out in the first round.”
This fight put Tim on the map as a formidable contender, and brought him an active fan base. The next fight, against Matt Hamill, his UFC main card debut, ended in a TKO loss for Tim. A one round TKO win against Mike Patt, then a loss to Jason Brilz caused him to be released from the UFC, and ended his contract after four fights with a 2-2 record. Despite the set-back, Tim’s attitude wasn’t one of defeat, but of a firm determination to turn the situation around.
“Having been cut by the UFC,” he says, “I felt again (like in his college wrestling days) that I didn’t do what I wanted to do when I was there. I knew I belonged in the UFC, and certainly was one of the best fighters in the league. So I talked to the manager and asked him what he thought I’d have to do to get back in, and he said that I’d have to win three or four fights outside the UFC. In a row, and do it in an impressive fashion. So I went to train at the American Martial Arts Academy in Kirkland, Washington. This was the place where I knew I could develop as a martial artist.”
True to the unwavering goal he set for himself, Tim won three fights in a row, and was re-signed to the UFC. Back at the UFC, Tim won his first fight back, lost the second, at which point he dropped to middleweight. At middleweight, he’s won three fights in row, beating Kendall Grove, the undefeated Nick Ring, and against Yushin Okami, this past February, rallied after two punishing rounds by Okami, and scored a victorious third round TKO, seen by many as the high point of his UFC career.
This July 21st, Tim has his sights firmly set on vanquishing former Bellator Middleweight Champion, Hector Lombard, who is making his UFC debut.
“I’m very excited, because Dana White (President/UFC) said that if Hector finishes the fight, he’ll get a title shot. So I hope that Dana is a man of his word, and if I win, he’ll give me the shot.”
If… that is, when Tim wins, he’ll be fighting the victor of the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen Middleweight fight. “I expect Anderson Silva to win, and so I expect to be facing Anderson Silva after I beat hector Lombard on July 21st,” he says, with calm assurance. Now, for the first time, his ultimate goal is beginning to come in sight.
Asked what it means to him to win, to be the best at what he does, Tim says, “For whatever reason, I’ve had this competitive streak in me since I was a small child, and I’ve always wanted to win everything, no matter what it was. Now, in my career, my expectation is to be champion, and I don’t really accept anything less than that. Certainly a lot of people would be happy with their career just being in the UFC, but that’s never satisfied me at all. My goal from day one of being in the UFC was I wanted to be UFC champion, and be champion of the world – that’s my absolute goal, to be able to make myself world champion, and know that’s the reason I was the best fighter ever.”
As well as external recognition, Tim sees his fighting career as something internally rewarding and important, an essential part of his soul and character.
“The interesting thing about fighting is it’s an individual sport – when you’re out there competing it’s just you versus your opponent, and training is very much like that too, in that the best training comes from finding out how hard you can push yourself. So it’s not so much about beating your opponent, it’s about pushing yourself to your limits, to beyond your limits. Pushing yourself further than where you’ve gone in the past, what you’re capable of doing. I think that’s what’s so attractive to me about these sports, it’s having to dig deep, and just see how far I can go. It’s about setting a goal and making it happen.”
Marilyn’s Memoir President Jim Pitzner followed Tim’s career for some time, and the two men finally met, which resulted in a friendship and in Tim endorsing the company, sporting the Marilyn’s Memoir logo on his fight shorts, hat and T-shirt.
“Jim contacted me via the MYSPACE page in 2007. He’d taken notice of my fight career, saw how things were going, saw my work ethic and he liked what he saw. There was a connection there, he’s a very goal-orientated guy, and we both know what it takes to be successful, so it’s a connection on a lot of different levels. He came out to see me fight, and we became pretty friendly after that.”
Asked what he thought of the concept, goals and services of Marilyn’s Memoir, Tim says, “It’s certainly something different than fighting, but I think that what I appreciate about the company is that everybody has a unique story, and the ability to get that down on paper for your family to read – my two children are very young right now, and I don’t think they really understand what I’m doing. But I think it would be very cool for them to someday be able to pick up a book and say, ‘Wow, Dad really did all this stuff.’ They’ve seen pictures, but to have something they could read about and have a better understanding of what I did… and I think not just for me, but anybody, to be able to give their story to their grandkids, future generations down the road is really something, to enlighten your family or friends and anybody that wants to read your story – everybody’s got a story.”
Tim Boetsch’s story is certainly one for the ages, and we at Marilyn’s Memoir will be cheering him on to a victorious upcoming chapter this July 21st in his UFC bout against Hector Lombard.
In conjunction with Tim’s July 21st UFC fight, stay tuned for the details of our Marilyn’s Memoir $10K “Pick Me” Novoir Giveaway (or $1K cash option) coming soon to the MM homepage, along with our signed Tim Boetsch T-shirts giveaway!