Ballroom dancing is no walk in the park. It takes a great deal of hand-eye-foot coordination, exercising of muscles people aren’t used to using, and, of course, keeping a rhythm to the music, all at the same time. It’s certainly not for everybody.
Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means is not known for his dancing prowess. He is, however, known for his successful MMA career, as well as his penchant for being a family man who gives his time to charities. However, there are a lot of parallels between MMA and dancing. In fact, the Brazilian martial art capoeira is also known as “dance fighting,” and there are some capoeira black belts that have been in the highest levels of the UFC. So, when Albuquerque’s Lovelace Women’s Hospital invited the Oklahoma native and New Mexico resident to participate in its annual fundraiser, the Day of Dance, he gladly accepted.
“I thought it was a guest-speaking event when we signed up, and I’ve always told my girls that if you sign up for something, you have to finish it,” Means told Combat Press. “I was talking to the people involved, and they said they changed up the format a little bit for this year, and were doing a Dancing with the Stars type of thing. So we stepped out of our comfort zone a little bit, but we had a good time with it.”
That’s right. Last month, Means traded in his four-ounce gloves for dancing shoes, and put on a show. While he didn’t win the competition, he had a lot of fun with it. All of this happened in the middle of a fight camp, too. A couple weeks before the competition, Means found out he was going to be back in the Octagon soon.
“Tom [Vaughn, FIT-NHB coach] called me and told me to be ready for a fight in March,” Means said. “We had a couple possibilities, and he came back with Niko Price that he wanted me to fight. I like the fight a lot. [Price is] an aggressive guy who tries to hurt you, and not one of these guys that wants to win on points. He makes for a good fight.”
Means and Price are both known for exciting fights, and their respective records show it. Of Means’ 40 pro fights, only 10 have gone to a decision. He’s also had several losses that were close enough to result in a split verdict from the judges. Of Price’s 15 pro outings, only one has ended in a decision. Needless to say, these guys both love to dance.
“I like the match-up, based on the fact that he’s going to come after me,” Means admitted. “I’m not going to have to go find him. He’s going to meet me in the middle of the cage and try to run through me. I fight better under the circumstances when guys want the fight. This should be a very violent fight on paper. Our styles match up quite well. We have more of the same strengths, and I think it’s going to be a really good fight.”
At UFC on ESPN+ 4 on Saturday night in Wichita, Kan., Means and Price will meet on the main card through the promotion’s new streaming agreement with ESPN. Means has a ton of experience fighting in the Midwest, whereas Price has none. Neither man has fought in the city once known as “Cowtown.”
“Wichita’s a new one,” Means said. “I don’t know what they got there, other than cows and grass fields. But, it’s going to be a pay day, and I get to fight for the UFC on ESPN+ now with the new TV deal. It should make for an entertaining day.
“Hell, I’ve proved time and time again that I’m going to fight my ass off and leave my best in the cage. If you’re a fight fan and want to watch a fight, I’m that guy. Niko Price is the same exact way, so this will be a fun-ass fight. The UFC put this one up higher on the show, so if you like to watch violent, bloody fights [and] people getting cut open, this is the fight to watch.”
Means pretty much nailed his assessment of his upcoming match-up. This one could easily qualify for “Fight of the Night” on what has shaped up to be a stacked card.
Right now, the UFC welterweight division is in a bit of disarray. There are guys up and down the top 15 who aren’t likely to get a title shot anytime soon, Ben Askren, who is turning into the second heel of the division behind Colby Covington, just staked a ranking with a bogus stoppage over Robbie Lawler, and once Covington and newly crowned champ Kamaru Usman tangle, it’s anyone’s guess on who may be next in line for a shot at the belt. If guys like Means want to make a run at the top, they need to stay busy and keep winning.
“My goal is to win this fight and stay healthy,” said Means. “I went into my last fight kind of injured. My goals are to stay healthy, and stay nice and loose for this fight. We tried to plan things out for last year, and things got pushed back from February to July. From there, it was September and October, so it kept getting pushed further and further back. By November, it just seemed like I was in a super-long camp. We’ve been doing a real good job of paying attention to the intensity levels. We try to practice easy, medium or hard, depending on how many we’re doing that week, and trying to do lots of strength and conditioning, and staying on top of nutrition. I’m excited I got a fight early in the year, and I’m excited to see what happens with it.”
On Saturday night, UFC on ESPN+ 4 takes place at the INTRUST Bank Arena, and Means and Price are scheduled to throw down on a main card that is sure to bring the proverbial fireworks. The stars will dance, and, hopefully for Means, he won’t have to wait until November for his next tango.