Over the past several years, the fight business has turned into a game of public call-outs and media dustups. Fighters have used social media and interviews to raise their profiles in order to boost themselves up the divisional pecking order. While this has become a popular method of raising the stakes, UFC middleweight contender Tim Boetsch wants no part of it.
The Maine native believes hard work and staying on the grind is the answer. Since dropping to the middleweight division, "The Barbarian" has been on a tear, as he has notched four consecutive victories inside the Octagon. With each win, the soon-to-be father of three has taken one step closer to his ultimate goal of facing 185-pound king Anderson Silva. Before he can make the dream a reality, he will have to overcome former prospect turned rising star Chris Weidman.
The two men are slated to square off at UFC 155. Despite the recent chatter about who deserves to have the next title shot, Boetsch believes his hard work will pay off, and the bout with Weidman will ultimately decide who is next.
"Things are kind of interesting right now in the division," Boetsch told Bleacher Report. "The fights speak for themselves and there are a couple of guys who are real standouts. It just so happens those two guys are fighting on December 29 at UFC 155 and we'll decide who the number one contender is.
"I'm going to do the hard work and it will get me where I need to be. A true champion can beat everyone out there. A true champion is determined. I've certainly had a tough few fights and this next one is going to be the toughest yet. With that being said, that is the challenge. It is a part of wanting to be the best fighter in the world.
"You don't want to just go out there and beat up all the low level guys. For me, the awesome part about this sport is that I'm now fighting the best guys in the world and those are the guys I wanting to be competing against. I think Chris Weidman is the same way where he wants to do whatever it takes and battle his way to the top to get his shot. I think it is going to make for an amazing fight on December 29."
Boetsch saw his stock rise as he found victory in his first three outings in the middleweight division. But it was his most recent victory over former Bellator champion Hector Lombard which put him squarely into the division's upper tier and on a collision course with Weidman.
The undefeated upstart from Long Island has been laying his own path of destruction, as he has rolled off five straight victories of his own since debuting in the UFC last March. As impressive as Weidman has looked, Boetsch feels his power and heart will make the difference when the two men lock up.
"I think the fight with Weidman is going to be a very good fight but I definitely expect to be victorious," Boetsch said. "I'm not taking anything away from Chris. He's a tough dude and the next toughest guy in the weight class. It's going to be a hard fought fight for sure. I believe I'm a tough fight for anyone. I'm decent everywhere and I don't give up. I train hard and go in there with a very strong will to win. I'm getting better every fight.
"Power is definitely one of the advantages I have over some of the other middleweights out there. I'm literally one punch away from changing the entire dynamic of a fight. I think I showed that in my bout with Okami. I was down two rounds to nothing, landed a couple of clean shots, and it was over. I certainly have that ability and it should be something my opponents are worried about."
While the bout between Boetsch and Weidman would appear to decide the next contender, a recent push from Michael Bisping has resonated loudly throughout the MMA community. "The Count" is pushing hard to put himself across from Anderson Silva, and looked strong in his victory over Brian Stann. Despite Bisping's efforts, Boetsch doesn't believe it will have an impact on his road to the top.
"Talking is just one of Bisping's tactics," Boetsch said. "He tries to stay in everybody's ear and stay noticed so people will continue to want to see him fight. Bisping's tough though. He took apart Brian Stann the other night and I had a feeling that was going to happen. If Brian was able to keep the fight standing I felt he had a really good chance of clipping Bisping and maybe knocking him out. But Stann just wasn't able to stop the take downs and Bisping definitely took advantage of that."
Despite a rough summer for the UFC, the end of the year is stacked with strong cards. Between UFC 154, UFC on Fox 5, and UFC 155, divisional pictures and championship belts will all be up for grabs. With the injury bug seemingly biting at every turn, and fights being scrapped at an increasing rate, Boetsch feels there are several factors which come into play.
"There is definitely some over-training going on but there is also a lot of pressure on fighters nowadays," Boetsch said. "There is pressure to win fights and if you are not out there performing at your highest ability, putting on and ultimately winning exciting fights; your career is on the line. You have to win to stay in the business. You have to put on exciting fights and you have to throw down hard. If guys aren't able to do that because they have developed some sort of injury; I definitely see why they are not jumping in the cage and putting it on the line.
"I understand their concern but at the same time I fall under an interesting category. I don't have the luxury of being able to take a bunch of time off. I have two kids, a wife and another child on the way in January. I have bills to pay. I have to take every fight I can. I've definitely taken a lot of fights where I'm not 100%. I have taken fights on short notice but I believe that is just part of the game. I'm not backing down. I'm going to get in there and perform.
"My parents really instilled in me if you make the decision to do something you follow through. You don't quit or give up. You go in and get what you want. That is part of my mentality and always has been. You put the work in and you just get tough. Even if your body isn't 100%, you go in there with a strong mind and get the job done."
While he appreciates the difficult task ahead in facing Weidman, the ultimate dream resting in the back of Boetsch's mind is to become the UFC middleweight champion. He doesn't allow himself to look too far into the future, and even with that being the case, the thought of facing Anderson Silva is never too far away.
"I have December 29th on my mind and that is the date I'm going to show up and beat Chris Weidman," Boetsch said. "Fans are going to see "The Barbarian" make a statement. I'm truly going to put it in stone that I'm the number one contender and next in line for the belt.
"I want to be the guy who sends Anderson Silva on his way after I take his belt from him. He's definitely going to have to fight me and I believe it will come after the Weidman fight. He has to defend that belt in this weight class and I want him to be defending it against me. I'm ready to retire Anderson Silva and I'm ready to get that belt. I'll do whatever it takes to get it."