Exclusive: UFC 162's Tim Boetsch has 'been there, done that,' Mark Munoz fight 'no problem'

USA TODAY Sports

Check out what's going through Tim Boetsch's mind as he looks to return to form this weekend on the UFC 162 main card against Mark Munoz in an exclusive interview with MMAmania.com.

Don't call it a comeback because Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight contender, Tim Boetsch, never really went away.

"The Barbarian" was on an absolute roll in the 185-pound division, winning his first four fights after dropping down a weight class, including back-to-back wins over former title challenger Yushin Okami and the much-hyped debut of Hector Lombard.

Boetsch was primed for a potential top contender spot heading into his last fight, but a knee injury suffered in his final sparring session coupled with some horrific bad breaks during the actual fight (head butt, eye poke) led to a third round technical knockout loss where he just couldn't perform to the best of his ability.

But, that's all in the past. Boetsch will have an opportunity this weekend (July 6, 2013) to silence the doubters and really put his stamp on the division again when he fights Top 10-ranked Mark Munoz on the UFC 162 main card in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The AMC Pankration-trained fighter spoke to MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission about his rough streak of luck, putting his past in the rear-view mirror what he expects against Munoz in this exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were pretty vocal about the rankings when they first came out. Is that something that really matters to you?

Tim Boetsch: Well, I cared at first because I was coming off the wins over Okami and Lombard but then I understood how the rankings really worked when I lost to Philippou because apparently people thought I couldn't fight at all and they dropped me completely out of the top 10 in most people's eyes. That was an eye-opener for me. It's nice to see that riding the bench and getting some time off has somehow got me back into the top 10. I'll take it. (laughs)

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How does it feel to have your name be a verb now? When Antonio Silva came back from being two rounds down and steamrolled Alistair Overeem with a third round knockout, everyone was going "He Tim Boetsch'd him!"

Tim Boetsch: (laughs) That's funny you say that because the first time I heard it was actually the Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard fight where Lombard almost "Boetsch'd" Okami in the third round because he was really going for the knockout. That was the first time I'd heard that used and I thought that was pretty funny and ironic, seeing two guys I beat and Okami almost got Boetsch'd again. When your name starts getting thrown around like that, you've certainly made an impression.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In your last fight you were looking really good and then just a terrible string of unfortunate circumstances happened for you. There was the torn cartilage so you didn't have the same explosion, then the eye poke, the head butt and the broken nose, it all accumulated. Do you think if those flukey things don't happen, you'd have gone out and beat Philippou? I'm pretty sure everyone gave you the first round against him.

Tim Boetsch: Oh yeah, I mean I flash knocked him out at the very end of the first round with that front kick. He talked about knowing that that was a technique I used and knowing that was something to watch out for and he still wasn't able to stop it as I landed a really good one at the end of the first round. I sustained an injury in training prior to the fight and I aggravated it in the first minute against Philippou so I had to gut check just to get through the first round.

I had to push through, like you said, it was just an incredible amount of unfortunate events in that fight and for whatever reason, that's the way it goes sometimes in fighting. They talk about the X Factor of fighting and that was about 10 X's in that fight. and that's fine. I've moved past it and I'm looking forward to this next fight. I've put it out of my mind. It's not even a speed bump in my career anymore. I've put it behind me.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What was the recovery process like with the torn cartilage? Sometimes it needs surgery, others you just need to heal with rest. What did you have to do?

Tim Boetsch: Yeah, for me it was just a matter of time. I didn't want to go through any surgical procedures or anything like that. I hoped that mother nature would take care of me and my body would heal itself and I believe it has. Seven months is a long time for me. I've been itching to fight for a couple months now to get back in there. For me, the hardest part was taking that time off because after a hard loss, you just want to get back after it. The injury wouldn't allow and I was forced to take time off and that was perhaps the good to come out of this. I was able to give myself a mental break, let my body heal up and now I'm hungrier than I've ever been. At the end of the day, even though it was a loss, I'm looking at it in a positive light.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're facing Mark Munoz next, who's actually ranked higher than Philippou was when you fought him. Do you feel like you can redeem everything with this fight?

Tim Boetsch: Absolutely, that's how I'm looking at it. When I found out Mark and I were fighting, for one I was very excited because fans are looking for him to display his vicious punching power and ground-and-pound. They're also interested in seeing what I'm going to do to try and finish the fight. Career-wise, I'm right where I need to be and if I can score a victory over Mark, I'll be right back in the mix.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What do you think about the battle of wrestling? You were a four-time state champion and he was a national champion in college. Who do you think has the better application of MMA wrestling between you two?

Tim Boetsch: Well, overall, he was obviously a much more successful wrestler than I was, being an NCAA Division I champion, but with that being said, this isn't a wrestling match. I think my wrestling for mixed martial arts is honestly at a world class level because of the way I can mix everything in. Whenever you're taking on a former NCAA champ like Munoz, that guy is bringing in a level of mental toughness that very few other athletes can replicate. The collegiate style of wrestling is such a hardcore style and you have to be so tough to make it through the grind of the long seasons so I give him a lot of respect and I expect to face an opponent that will not break. I'm training extra hard for this fight knowing that he has that wrestling background and he's gonna be a tough guy.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This seven month break is about as long as you've ever been off, but Munoz has been ouch much longer with the foot injury and more. What are you expecting from him considering how long he's been out?

Tim Boetsch: I've thought about that, but that goes along with what I was talking about, which is mental toughness. Obviously, his willingness to work hard, hopefully he's been able to get a good camp in and train hard. I'm expecting the best Mark Munoz we've seen in a while. Certainly it can affect you, your timing, having to readjust to all those jitters and things that can distract you on fight night. It can play into affect if you haven't been around in a year and that's Mark's case, but I have a feeling he'll be able to deal with it just fine, though.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think the seven month break could affect you?

Tim Boetsch: Well, I've been in this type of situation before. I had a fight booked way in advance against Michael Bisping last summer and he sustained an injury and I ended up fighting Hector Lombard. I had ample time for that fight before and this time around, I had more time than I was used to get ready for this fight. That shouldn't be a problem.

You can follow Tim on Twitter @TimBoetsch.

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