Throughout history, there have been plenty of popular hairstyles. In retrospect, you wonder what was going through the heads of the people who decided to fashion their hair in decidedly weird ways.
The mullet is still the standard to which all other horrible haircuts are compared. While it’s not known if he ever sported a mullet, UFC welterweight Tim Means would like to forget the hairstyle he had when he made his mixed martial arts debut as an amateur. However, it was his hairstyle that allowed him to adopt the nickname he continues to use to this day.
“I had a bad haircut,” Means told Combat Press. “It was not a good-looking ‘do. My teammate told me I looked like a ‘dirty bird,’ and it stuck.”
Means, whose pro MMA record now stands at 26-7-1, kept the unique nickname “Dirty Bird.” Fortunately, he ditched the bad haircut on his way to an extensive professional career which began in 2004 and continues to this day. However, it hasn’t come without trials and tribulations along the way, including drug addiction, jail time and a release from the UFC.
When you talk to Means now, he sounds like a man at peace after overcoming his demons. He looks into the future, not the past. The UFC brought Means back in 2012. He responded with a 10-4 run, including six wins in his last seven fights. His last four victories have come by knockout or submission.
“I’m really focusing on my nutrition and timing drills, and moving up in weight really helped,” said Means, who originally began fighting as a lightweight but has since moved up to welterweight. “The work I’ve done with my coach is really starting to show in the cage. I haven’t been sparring hard daily like I used to, because I don’t need to. I used to get ready to fight by fighting, but now I do strength, conditioning and lifting, and I do my research and my homework with hydration and reaction drills. You hear about people aging like a fine wine, but I still haven’t found one I like.”
The “Dirty Bird’s” first stint in the UFC lasted from 2012 to 2013, after which he won back-to-back fights by first-round knockout in Legacy FC before returning to the UFC in 2014.
“My time in Legacy was excellent,” Means said. “They treated me very well and the pay was pretty close to the UFC. Organizations like that are really important for the growth of fighters. They can get experience on camera and with doing interviews, and get experience under the lights. I remember when I did my first interview on camera, I nearly forgot how to talk.”
Means pays it forward by working with children and teenagers in his local community.
“I hear from people who tell me their story and how I helped them overcome addiction, and it’s cool if I can help them along way,” he said. “I enjoy the life that I have. I can’t say there aren’t any side effects, but my mind is clear and the most important is having my family around me. I put in the hard work and handle my issues in the gym. The biggest problem is having an idle mind, but I choose and I want to be at the gym.”
The lone blemish in his last seven fights came via a submission loss to Matt Brown at UFC 189 last year. Like many others, Means tuned in to UFC 206 over the weekend to watch Brown face Donald Cerrone, among other fights. Means described the performances by Brown, Cerrone and other fighters like Doo Ho Choi and Cub Swanson as “outstanding. They really went above and beyond.”
He thought Brown was protecting his body against Cerrone, which allowed “Cowboy” to land a devastating head kick for a knockout victory. Means thought he was winning his own fight against Brown until an eye poke during the fight halted his momentum.
“I let that fight slip away, but I don’t think he’s been the same since he faced me,” Means said. “I think I win nine times out of 10 against Brown, and I’d like to get myself back in Cerrone’s crosshairs now that I’m done with USADA.”
Means was slated to face Cerrone earlier this year, but an unintentional violation by Means of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing led to a six-month suspension and the cancellation of the bout. Means was suspended under the policy, but he still lauds the steps the UFC is taking to fight doping and the work of Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, who worked with Means to identify the cause of his failed test.
“I really think it’s helping the sport overall,” Means said of the USADA. “I could have looked at my situation as ‘poor me,’ but I’m thankful they found the reason why — even though I wish they could have found it a little quicker. But they were very thorough, and Jeff Novitzky was on it. He’s on the level and he will find out very quickly if you’re telling the truth or if you’re bullshitting him.”
Means has his next fight at UFC 207 on Dec. 30. It comes against Alex Oliveira, the fighter who replaced Means against Cerrone.
“I feel like I lost some momentum when he stepped in for me. He took my momentum and now I want to take it back,” Means said of Oliveira. “He’s tough and he’s very durable, and he also likes to work inside the clinch. I feel like his strengths are my strengths.”
Means and Oliveira will compete on a card that’s headlined by the return of former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who seeks to regain the title from current champion Amanda Nunes in her first fight since she suffered the first loss of her career against Holly Holm in 2015.
“I feel like it was a bit of reality check, with all the commercials and movies she was doing,” Means said of Rousey’s loss. “You also had guys like Oscar de la Hoya and others putting her on a pedestal and making her feel invincible and saying how great of a striker she is. Ronda went away from what she does best and tried to strike with someone who has 40-something professional boxing fights, and tried to beat Holly at her own game.”
Means thinks Rousey will enter the Octagon with a “clear mind.” He believes she will be more focused and get back to what made her so effective in the first place.
“I could see [Ronda] winning,” Means said.
Meanwhile, Means will be back in the cage with Oliveira. He might not have the bad haircut anymore, but he still has his well-known nickname. And if the “Dirty Bird” has his way, he’ll join Rousey as one of the evening’s big winners.