Tim Means can attest to just how quickly things can change in this crazy sport. During his last fight against perennial contender Matt Brown at UFC 189, Means found success and even had fans wincing in pain after landing a nifty counter elbow against Brown. Things seemed to be going well for Means in the first minutes of the fight. Then he was caught by a strike from Brown that forced Means to shoot for a takedown and try to recover. Unfortunately, Means landed right in a guillotine choke from Brown and “The Dirty Bird” was tapping just seconds later.
It’s the type of sequence that reminds us just how unpredictable it is when two high-level opponents face off inside a steel cage.
“I did land a pretty good elbow, and I was still trying to get my vision back from an earlier eye poke,” Means told Combat Press. “He threw an elbow and I saw it last second. I tried to turn away and it just clipped me behind the ear. I don’t remember the takedown much. I watched the tape, and I shoot for that takedown and I didn’t even know where I was at and he ended up getting the choke.”
The eye poke happened just seconds into the contest. It looked pretty bad. It could have easily been one of those rare eye pokes that put a halt to a fight. But for tough guy like Means, it only stopped the contest for a short few seconds. Then he was right back at with the welterweight standout Brown. That doesn’t mean everything was perfect for Means.
“I never really got my vision back,” he said. “A couple of days after the fight, I went back and they checked my retina and around my eye. My vision was still cloudy, the upper part and outside of my eye, my peripheral vision. I never got my vision back, but it is what it is. You have to fight through those things, and Brown was the better guy that night. Sucks because I had him dialed in, you know. But up to that point, I had him hurt a few times. I was going in for the kill and things just turned the other way. I let it slip through my fingers.”
Regardless of the outcome, some fighters would take solace in a performance like the one Means had against a top contender. For almost the entire duration of the fight, Means seemed to be in control. Those are the things, as a fighter, that could easily be fixed in the gym. Means is not too thrilled with the result of the fight. He wants a shot at redemption.
Despite the disappointment Means has expressed over the fight’s outcome, he has still been shown appreciation by the higher-ups in Zuffa. The loss still stings, but a little love from the UFC brass helps to ease the pain.
“I was pretty bummed out about the loss,” said Means. “I worked real hard and I had it in my hands, you know. I just let it slip away, but [UFC President] Dana White sent me a pretty good bonus and a personal letter. They sent me a new contract and it was really, really good. I guess if that is a way to lose, that’s the way to lose, but I definitely don’t like [it], so I have a big chip on my shoulder for this next fight.”
Since being cut from the UFC in 2013 while fighting as a lightweight, Means has moved back up to 170 pounds. It is easy to see why the UFC and Dana White are thrilled to have him back. His fighting style is a clear fan-favorite. It is almost a guarantee that when he fights, fans will be witness to an entertaining affair.
The move to welterweight has really benefited Means, who looks almost like an entirely new fighter when he is allowed to keep an extra 15 pounds on for weigh-ins.
“I just don’t feel like the fight is the weight cut anymore,” he said. “The weight cut was just not fun. It was constantly nibbling and constantly sipping water and all the good stuff. Even when I did it right — I had a nutritionist in George Lockhart [and] it was done amazingly when I fought [Jorge] Masdival — but even when we did absolutely correct, it was still super painful. I felt uncomfortable. I felt bad the day of the fight. [Lockhart] really knows his nutrition. I recommend to dudes who are looking to cut weight to seek him. The dude knows what he is doing. It was just that 155 wasn’t for me. I got too big. I even got a little bit taller. Now, moving up to 170, I have plenty of energy, a lot of strength and conditioning. Things are just better. I enjoy my job again and I’m not having to fight with a weight cut. I just have to worry about the fight.”
Means wants to be top contender in the UFC’s welterweight division. Even though he just fought one of the top guys in the weight class, things aren’t really getting much easier for Means in his next outing. Though no one will mistake John Howard for Matt Brown, the Boston native still brings a lot to the table against Means at UFC Fight Night 80.
Howard, a 13-fight UFC veteran, has fought the who’s who of the division in the past and doesn’t have too many weaknesses on paper. Howard is a fight every welterweight should take seriously.
“He’s got good hooks, good straight rights and then he has a really good kick off of that back leg,” said Means. “I’m expecting him to come out and try to chop down my legs. He is super tough and super underrated — good wrestling, good top control, good scrambling — so I’m expecting Howard to want to come in there and try to make an example, but he is catching me at the wrong time. He’s a guy that has been in a lot of wars. He’s a grinder and he doesn’t like to go backwards. I’m expecting a barnburner, but his last fight absolutely sucked, so we won’t do that again.”
Anyone familiar with “Dirty Bird’s” style knows they can bet the house that this fight won’t suck one bit.