SpitballingPod Interviews Tim 'Dirty Bird' Means
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with UFC Welterweight Contender Tim Means as he prepares to continue his assault on the division and make his case for the title. You can hear the interview in full here, or read a transcript of our conversation below the player.
Luke: Hi, it’s Luke Byron. Just to kick us off, how did you originally get into MMA?
Tim: I think it flashed back to I was getting bullied in school and I was always getting into fights. From there I started boxing first, I stuck with it, and then moved into MMA.
Luke: I was going to mention, I did notice that you had boxed professionally three times and I wondered what made you switch disciplines to MMA?
Tim: There’s just so many different pieces to the puzzle, and all these pieces put together are what makes martial arts. There’s more tools there for us to finish people and I did really like boxing but there was just a new aspect to MMA and it really is an intriguing sport. Once you get into MMA and then you start watching boxing, boxing just gets kinda boring.
Luke: When I was reading back through your career, I noticed that you were cut back in 2013 and then you worked back to get into the UFC – how hard was it to deal with that, and then to keep going and push your way back?
Tim: Yeah I got cut, it was the 155 pound division that I was fighting at, and I’d spent the majority of my career fighting at catchweights – 158 and that kinda area. I knocked about there for a good long time and then when I got my contract for the UFC, I started to grow up a bit and I wasn’t a kid anymore and I just grew out of the weight class; I went from walking around at 180 pounds to walking around at like 195. I took a last minute fight against Castillo and I understood Joe Silva’s reasoning – I said I could do something and I signed on the dotted line and I didn’t get it done. We’d been asking to move up for a while and eventually they did give me the option to move up, but they wanted me to sit on the shelf for six or seven months or he gave me the option to go to Legacy and fight.
Luke: I saw the first fight with Oliveira and the way it was stopped due to the illegal knees and following that fight I heard Joe Rogan speaking on how he didn’t understand why knees were illegal on the ground when they’re ok on the feet – I just wondered what your opinion on that was?
Tim: It’s just a confusing spot, guys are still getting cracked there and it’s such a confusing area. Then some places have and some places haven’t adopted the new rules. Obviously then we had the rematch which didn’t go the way I wanted as I was injured, but I think the commissions need to get together and just have one rule set; You see some of these lower organisations and they’re saying that you STILL need to have the hands down and in some places that practically want you to do a handstand to be considered grounded. I think just everyone needs to get on the same page as when you’re in there and things are going so fast, you’re not really seeing hands on the ground etc, which is why I thought it was a free knee. I think knees should be allowed there, you’re either all the way down in full guard or you’re trying to improve your position – you shouldn’t be able to just hang out there and have a rule set to protect you there as that’s where guys get finished.
Luke: You last fought in June, when would you like to be out next?
Tim: I’m waiting for something now, I figured I should be hearing something real soon. I’ve got nothing specific in mind, but I’ve got a few house projects going on, so I’ve got a lot of money going out and I’d like to have a fight set – then I can start getting ready for Christmas and the holidays.
Luke: What’s your ultimate goal in MMA, is it to push on and win the title now?
Tim: I feel like I’m right there, I just need to get a big name, then I can beat a big name. I feel like I’ve been getting talked about more and more over the years and I’m in that position now, I just need to put everything together and that’s what we’re doing with the wrestling. I just fought back in June against Alex Garcia and I think he was ranked like third highest in takedown percentage and I was able to stuff all of his takedowns. At 170 outside of the Oliveira fight, he’s been the only one that’s really been able to hang on to me when we fought in Brazil; A lot of things went wrong in that fight, with the fractured foot and I think it speaks volumes from our first meeting to the second meeting as there’s a big difference in my performance level and it speaks volumes when I’m healthy.
Luke: Are you looking to stay at welterweight now?
Tim: We’ll see down the road, but the plan for now is definitely 170. Maybe when I’ve got a bit more age on me, then I might want to move up to 185, but right now I still wanna diet, cut the weight and stay at 170. As long as I pay attention, it’s really not that much of a difficult thing to do.
Luke: I read that you do some coaching, is that something that you’d like to progress into when you hang up the gloves?
Tim: Yeah, that’s definitely gonna be the future. I have a teens program and we’re actually getting ready for the grappling fest here in Albuquerque. I enjoy working with the kids and giving them a place to vent, help them build confidence and help the athletes mature on the mat. It’s definitely something that I wanna do, and I have a lot of fun doing, so if anyone’s worked a day in their life, they’ll know they wanna wake up and go do something that they love to do, and I really do enjoy what I do. We have about 50 kids on our grappling team here and the numbers will only get bigger when I step into full time coaching and no longer compete.
Luke: I wondered how you got the nickname ‘Dirtybird’ as it’s not one we’ve seen before?
Tim: I went to the state wrestling championships and my Mom had dyed my hair as I’d gotten involved with MMA. I had my first fight when I was 17 and it was a bad haircut, a bad dye job and someone called me a dirtybird and the name stuck. I hated that name for a long time, but it kinda stuck and I grew into it.
Luke: Just finally, the UFC website lists your fighting style as cardio, technique and a huge heart – is that how you’d describe it?
Tim: Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. Aggression should probably be on there, but I take pride in what I do, I try to be better each time out, I try to be calm with these fights coming up and I just need to win that one big fight and people will be talking about me and all these things I do. I let the Matt Brown fight get away from me, I let the Neil Magny fight get away, so it’s just about putting all these things together. Watching my early days in the UFC compared to where I am now – my ring generalship, my maturity in the cage has started to show and I was able to stick to my coaches gameplan for a full 15 minutes and it’s all fallen together.
Luke: Well thanks a lot for giving me some of your time today Tim, I do really appreciate it, and good luck in your next fight.
Tim: Thanks a lot, appreciate it.