Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch

UFC 172: Jones vs Teixeira goes down live tonight with an incredibly stacked card that has the potential to be the best UFC event to date. From the headlining title fight between champion Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira, to the return of Takanori Gomi and Anthony Johnson, fight fans should anticipate a night of fireworks.  One fight in particular that could possibly steal the show pits former Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold against heavy-handed underdog Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch.

Boetsch might be a barbarian in the cage, but the gritty outdoorsman is as cerebral as they come, and he’s ready to propel himself back into title contention with a big win over Rockhold. Tim spoke with ProMMANow just days removed from combat and gave us his thoughts on fighting Luke, dieting on elk he hunts himself and prospecting for gold in more ways than one.

Questions from ProMMA’s Kinch in bold.

Answers from Mr. Boetsch are italicized.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me just ahead of UFC 172, first things first, how are you feeling and how was your camp?

“Fight camp was great, probably one of the best I’ve had in a long time, so I’m feeling really good. I’m pretty pumped.”

I noticed in the Countdown show that you looked very lean, has this been an easy cut for you? And if so, what did you do differently this time?

“Well actually, even though I am a bit more lean then in previous camps, I still have the same amount of weight I have to cut. Hopefully it will be easier, I’m fully hydrated and I’m ready to go through the process.”

I feel like swimming is an underutilized method of conditioning training in MMA, the best shape I was ever in personally is when I swam everyday. Is that something you have always done?

“We’ve utilized swimming in my training camps ever since I started with Matt Hume, so I’ve been doing pool workouts for the last six years. It’s definitely a different kind of cardio-vascular training, a good way to change things up and get out of the gym setting. I think that’s really important, keeping things interesting and preventing burnout with those lighter days of getting in the pool.”

How important is the underwater training aspect of swimming?

“It’s made a huge difference, I am able to hold my breath for quite a while swimming under water. I feel like it really improves your VO2 max in the fight, so I definitely do a lot of that work as well.”

Also in the countdown, The Wizard Matt Hume talked about how he wished you were training with him year round. I know you’re a family man and you have several other talents and business’s that you’re passionate about, but have you considered moving closer to the AMC Pankration facility?

“I have considered it, but to be completely honest, it’s good for me to be away. I think I’m more prone to burning out, so if I was there year round training the way that I do when I’m in fight-mode, I don’t think it’s something I could maintain year round. I think it’s actually beneficial that I don’t live there and that I can come back and fully focus on my training.” 

And in regards to your diet, it didn’t surprise me that a hearty outdoorsman like yourself hunts his own food for his fight camp. I’m wondering if the elk are wild or a farm raised canned hunt type of deal? 

“It’s totally wild. I don’t do any of the ranched hunts with high fences so the animals can’t get away. It’s all fair chase, that’s how I’ve done it my entire life. Anything other than that I don’t consider to be real hunting.”

And how beneficial has it been for you to cook your own meals and eat the way you like, while still being healthy?

“It’s all about being able to maintain a high level, and when you’re actually enjoying what you’re doing, it’s that much easier. So the fact that I was brought up on wild game we personally hunted, and the fact that I can cook it myself, it’s huge. I enjoy cooking and eating good, nutritious food like that. So I definitely don’t grimace while I’m eating a nice elk steak or something like that. It’s quite a pleasure actually.

“I’ve watched a lot of cooking shows, so I’m able to prepare the same kind of meat in a lot of different ways. I’d like to think I’m pretty well-versed in the kitchen, so I’m able to keep it interesting while being healthy and nutritious at the same time.”

Now on to your opponent. Like yourself, Luke has a diverse game and comes from a great camp. Give me your thoughts on how you match up against Rockhold and what are kind of a fight are you expecting on Saturday?

“Well, fighting Luke Rockhold, I know it’s going to be a tough fight. He’s in great shape, he’s a great athlete, and he’s been a world champion. He’s competed at the highest levels of the sport, so I know I’m in for a tough fight. That being said, I don’t think he’s ever encountered somebody like me in any of his fights.

“I plan on being very violent in there, very aggressive and looking to take his head off. I know that I’m completely capable of doing those things, that what I’ve trained to do. I know it’s going to be a very exciting fight to watch and a very exciting fight to be a part of. Luke is a tough opponent with a lot of attributes, but I know I’m prepared to win this fight.”

This match-up was originally scheduled for UFC 166 before Luke pulled out with an injury. Knowing that you two would eventually be locking horns, has the extra time to study him been beneficial? 

“Yeah it really has, getting some extra time is really good. My last camp didn’t go nearly as well as this one did, so timing-wise this has worked out perfectly for me. I’m coming off a much better camp, I’m completely healthy this time around, so to be fighting Luke now is perfect for me. I know he has gotten a little better too, but I feel like I’m in a much better place then I was when we were originally scheduled to fight.”

Where do you feel Luke is most dangerous and what areas do you expect to dominate in this tilt?

“Honestly I feel like I can win a lot of the striking exchanges and execute what I’ve trained to do. I know the takedowns are going to be there, he’s got some good takedown defense but I see some holes in his game that I’ll be looking to exploit. I’m ready for wherever this fight goes, but I’m going into this fight aware that it’s going to be tough.”

Can we anticipate some judo techniques similar to your beautiful throw of Nick Ring?

“I sure hope so. If I can get my hips underneath him, I’ll definitely send him for a ride.”

You are currently ranked no. 13 in the division and Rockhold is no. 5, a win over Luke would put you right back into the mix for a title shot. How important is it for you to have an impressive showing and stake a claim as a top contender at 185?

“That’s the most important thing in my career right now because that’s where I want to be. I want a shot at the title and in order to do that, I need to beat Luke in impressive fashion. That’s the mission that I’ve got and that’s what I’m going to do on Saturday.”

Assuming you make a statement against Rockhold, do you think if you continue to win and remain healthy, you could be fighting for a title within the next year?

“Absolutely, a big win on Saturday puts me right there and knocking on the door. So that’s what I’m going to do, it’s the biggest fight of may career.”

It’s clear that you are on the hunt for UFC gold, but I noticed that you have been prospecting for gold in a literal sense as well. Tell me about you venture into gold prospecting, how did you get into it and how have your results been thus far?

“My dad introduced me when I was really young, before I even knew what we were doing, he was down on the river panning a little bit. That was back when I was a kid, but all these shows on TV definitely sparked my interest again. I started doing a little bit of research and found out that there was quite a bit of gold out here in Washington that I had been sitting on the whole time I was at training camp the past few years. I got some gear, started looking around and sure enough, I found some.

“Then I was able to get hooked up with a company called Gold Hog which produces some pretty impressive mining equipment. I started using that during this past fight camp and I’ve been able to come up with some pretty good color. It’s a nice pastime that gets me outside and finding a little gold, I don’t think many people can say they get to do that anymore, so I’m very fortunate.”

In our first conversation last year, we talked about the lack of the internal side of martial arts in MMA. That being said, I’m wondering what do you typically do while preparing for a fight in regard to spiritual and mental preparation?

“I like to go to church every Sunday, and certainly any time that you can just focus on the spiritual side of things, it greatly benefits the rest of your life. Whether it be your fight career or whatever your profession might be, take the time to quiet your mind. Part of that for me is when I’m gold prospecting out on the river by myself. I can just take a few moments, quiet my mind and just focus on what’s important.”

And finally sir, what can Barbarian fans expect to see on Saturday and how do you visualize this fight going down?

“I visualize a brutal knockout early. In a perfect world, that’s what going to happen, but I’m prepared for this to go the distance and be hard-fought. But in my mind I see a big knockout and my getting hand raised at the end of the night. I would like to thank all my fans and family for their continued support, and I really appreciate everyone standing behind me.”

Be sure to follow Tim on Twitter @TimBoetsch

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