Tim Means learned a valuable lesson in two UFC fights last year: he is no longer a lightweight.
Means will return to the promotion in May at UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva from Cincinnati when he squares off with Neil Magny. He was brought back as a replacement for William Macario.
In 2013, Means (20-5-1) fought Jorge Masvidal and Danny Castillo at 155 pounds, dropping both bouts via decision. However, as far as Means is concerned, neither performance showcased what he is fully capable of because of the difficult weight cuts he put on himself.
“By the time I got to the fights, I was running on fumes,” said Means, during an interview with FightLine. “The burden was on making weight, not the actual fight. For me, the fights were not even that hard.”
Means has been fighting professional since 2004, so he knows what needs to happen for a proper weight cut. The idea of competing at lightweight was only suppose to be a short-term thing, but “it turned into a four-year deal.”
“If you’ve never (cut weight), you can’t understand what goes into it,” he said. “It is super difficult, especially for someone like me who is super tall for his weight. When I was cutting weight in my 20s, my body was just developing, changing. That just made the weight cut even more difficult.
“The body has to adapt. You have to rehydrate. It’s just something (athletes) have to do, and have to be dedicated to. My hats off to those that cut (a lot) of weight.”
Means opened his UFC career with back-to-back wins over Bernardo Magalhaes and Justin Salas, the latter of which was a first round knockout. He was scheduled to meet Abel Trujillo in 2012, but the contest was part of the cancelled UFC 151 card.
The match up with Trujillo was rescheduled for December, but Means suffered a head injury after falling in a sauna while attempting to shed the final few pounds.
In 2013, he dropped a decision to Masvidal and another to Castillo. Against Castillo, he came in over the lightweight limit after accepting the contest on short notice.
“I cut 28 pounds in 12 days (vs. Castillo),” he admitted. “I needed the money and thought I could get it done. I got down to the last four-or-five pounds, but ran into a wall.
“I decided there was no point in trying to continue cutting the weight because I was going to have no energy left for the fight the next day. I was still super tired and exhausted. My coach knew right away something was wrong even before the fight started.”
Means was instructed by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to concentrate on making weight and they would likely give him a return fight.
“Joe told me I wasn’t being cut on my performances, but concern over missing weight,” Means said. “They told me to get a few wins and I would be back.
“But you never know how that is going to wind up. Legacy FC put a contract on the table and I took it at 170.”
Means fought veteran Pete Spratt last September, scoring a knockout victory in just over two minutes. He took that bout on short notice, and returned in January of this year, finishing Artenas Young.
After the victor over Young, Means believed he was on his way to competing for the Legacy FC welterweight title. He has previously held both the King of the Cage lightweight and junior welterweight belts.
“Then I got a call from the UFC,” he said. “Well, actually my manager got the call and accepted the fight (vs. Magny) without even telling me. He just called me up and said you are fighting May 10 for the UFC.
“We were preparing to box April 26, but stuff kept falling through. We pitched my name to Lion Fight and GLORY for Muay Thai bouts, but Tom (Vaughn) accepted the (Magny fight). I like it that way. It allows me to just concentrate on fighting.
Means feels the decision to focus on welterweight is the right one, as he has “a smile on my face constantly because I’m not stressing over making 155.”
“I don’t have to concentrate on pacing myself in fights anymore,” he said. “I can put the throttle down and go. I don’t have to worry about takedowns because I felt I would get too tired from the weight cut to defend them.
“I’m actually pretty excited to show people my wrestling because I wasn’t able to (in the last two UFC fights). I can fight consistently and for a longer period of time without using up all my energy.”
He’ll need to do just that against Magny, who is a 6-foot-3 former wrestler with strong jiu-jitsu skills.
“Magny has a long reach, but I doubt he stands with me,” Means said. “I don’t want to be overconfident anywhere. He’s a grinder who likes to get a hold of you, use a good clinch, but I have an answer for that.
“I am looking to stop it on the feet or submit him on the ground. I would rather stop a guy with strikes, but I am starting to dig the submission game.”
Means has settled down with FIT NHB, which allows him to remain home and train with the likes of UFC newcomer Ray Borg, Vaughn, Arlene Sanchez, Thomas Schulte and others.
“We have a really good gym,” he said. “I think the ‘super-gyms’ with big names are over-hyped. There is more egos involved, which leads to more injuries because everyone is trying to show everyone up.
“We have guys who are fun to train with, put in hard work and help everybody get better. I am really thankful for everybody at FIT NHB for helping me.”
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea