From weigh-in time late Friday afternoon to when he steps into the Octagon late Saturday night, Tim Boetsch will be all about the fight.
But until then the Lincolnville native’s week in Cajun country was also all about promoting the fight — a job that came with being in the main event of UFC Fight Night 68 at the 17,000-seat Smoothie Event Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“It definitely is busier,” said Boetsch, who will face Californian mixed martial arts legend Dan Henderson in a middleweight bout scheduled for five 5-minute rounds.
And the responsibilities as the face of the nationally televised (Fox Sports 1, 10 p.m.) show weren’t limited to a succession of brief chats with newspaper writers and bloggers or five-minute appearances on radio talk shows.
“[Trainer Marcus Davis] and I will have a public workout, there will be more interviews and more time in the public eye getting the fight promoted up,” Boetsch said earlier in the week. “But after that it’s business as usual, making weight on Friday and then going into fight night making sure we’re ready to fight.”
This marks Boetsch’s first turn as a UFC headliner during an MMA career that began in 2008 after a stellar amateur wrestling run at Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport — where he won four consecutive individual state championships — and Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, where he now lives.
The opportunity came after one of the card’s original headliners, Daniel Cormier, was pulled from that scheduled light heavyweight scrum against Ryan Bader for a UFC 187 clash with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the vacant 205-pound world title after Jon Jones was stripped of the crown and suspended from the organization in April after his arrest for leaving the scene of a motor-vehicle accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cormier won the championship with a third-round submission of Johnson.
Boetsch and Henderson already were scheduled for the Fight Night 68 undercard, so when news came that the bout was elevated to main-event status, Boetsch merely maintained the pace of his training regimen with Davis at Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer.
“The camp went great,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of camps where everything goes great right until the last week and then I get hurt, and that’s always in the back of my mind and I’m a bit nervous because as you peak you train a lot harder and spar a lot harder that final week so there’s opportunities to be hurt.
“But this one went off without a hitch. I feel very confident coming into this fight.”
The 34-year-old Boetsch is ranked 13th among UFC 185-pound fighters with an 18-8 record, and while he’s split his last two bouts he was awarded a $50,000 post-fight bonus after each of those efforts — as performer of the night in a second-round stoppage of Brad Tavares at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor last August, and for fight of the night in a second-round loss to Thales Leites at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I’ve had two fights with Marcus and two bonuses,” said Boetsch. “I’m looking to make it three for three and I feel like it’s definitely going to happen. I’m a better fighter than I’ve ever been and Marcus is a big part of that. Everybody’s going to see it Saturday night.”
The 44-year-old Henderson (30-13) was an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler in 1992 and 1996 who went on to win world championships in both the Pride Fighting Championships and Strikeforce MMA promotions.
“I recognized Dan as a great fighter before I even entertained the idea of being a fighter,” said Boetsch. “I remember watching him fight and just thinking that guy was incredibly tough, and when I realized I was going to be a fighter Dan was one of the guys I wanted to be like, for sure.”
Henderson has lost five of his last six fights but they came against a who’s who of UFC contenders — Cormier, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and most recently Gegard Moussai by first-round knockout on Jan. 24.
“He’s getting closer to the end of his career,” Boetsch said. “But that being said, he’s one of those guys who even though he’s lost a lot of fights lately, I’m sure his opponents all had a few nerves in the back of their minds that they were going to get hit hard. He’s got the potential to finish fights quickly, so you can’t relax in there.”
While a win would help either fighter maintain his status within a deep UFC middleweight field, there’s been speculation a loss could send Henderson into retirement.
It’s speculation Boetsch hopes to fuel.
“I’ve definitely thought about how the fight could be his last,” he said. “That’s something I would be very proud of, and we’ll see how it all plays out Saturday.
“Dan has said he’s looking to get a couple more wins in there, but he’s not going to get a win on my watch.”