After going .500 in his first UFC stint and losing consecutive fights to Jorge Masvidal and Danny Castillo at lightweight, Tim Means needed to make a change. The cut to 155 pounds had become too much on his body, so he made the move up to welterweight.

Following his release from the UFC, which was primarily the result of missing weight against Castillo, Means was immediately signed to a welterweight contract with Legacy FC, where he scored a pair of quick, first-round TKO wins over Pete Spratt and Artenas Young.

Those wins paved the way for Means’ return to the Octagon for UFC Fight Night 40 on May 10 at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Means steps into this bout on a month’s notice to fill in for the injured William Macario against Neil Magny.

Means (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Means (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“Training has been good,” Means told The MMA Corner. “I was getting ready for a boxing match, so I was already in preparation for getting ready for a fight. We just had to switch gears from boxing to MMA. I don’t consider it short notice, but I’m filling in for someone that was injured and I get back in the UFC, and I feel great at the 170-pound division.”

For Means, the best part about returning to the UFC is the fact that he gets to do so at welterweight, a weight class much better suited to his body.

“It feels great,” Means said. “One-fifty-five was supposed to be a short amount of time. We were supposed to get those fights out of the way and move forward, and it turned into a four-year deal. My body started to adjust and I started to get heavier than what I was. Rather than walking around at 175, I started walking around at 195. I was taking short-notice fights—like when I fought Danny Castillo, it was on 12 days’ notice. It was stuff that I thought I could do, that I normally could do when I was walking around at 175, but it was just becoming too taxing for my body. It’s science. You start getting older and you start getting a little bit bigger, and making that weight when you are 18 to 25 is just not working anymore. To get to move up and get a call back to the UFC is just awesome.”

Now that he is at welterweight, Means believes he will finally get to show everyone what kind of fighter he really is, and he gets to enjoy the moment while doing it.

“My performances were me running on fumes,” Means revealed. “It shows the amount of heart that I have to be able to step in on short notice like I did against Castillo and went to a decision with him. I gave him somewhat of a competitive fight. He wrestled me and hung on to a can opener for the majority of the fight, but at 170 I don’t feel that I have to conserve energy. I can just come out and get the fight to my pace and make guys uncomfortable.

“It showed in my last two fights in Legacy. I was able to get the momentum going against Pete Spratt pretty quick, and the same with Artenas Young. I’m so happy to be at 170. [Friday night] I got to eat 7000 calories with two gallons of water, and I woke up this morning after practice and I only have 10 pounds to lose. It’s just so much better. I’m smiling more, just happy. I get to eat, I’m high-fiving people. This time usually I’m stressing.

“That was the main thing for me—it just got to be a real burden and I wasn’t able to focus on the fights. I was having to stress and focus on the weight cut. I didn’t really get to take it in the first time that, ‘Hey, we’re here. We’re in the UFC.’ I wasn’t able to take it in and enjoy it. Now, I still have be mentally tough, but I get to be in the moment and enjoy the moment.”

Mean’s knows that he has a lot to prove this go-around in the UFC. After Means’ fights with Masvidal and Castillo, people questioned whether or not he was just a one-dimensional fighter.

“I can wrestle, man,” Means said. “Takedown defense, when I fought Castillo, everyone was talking trash, saying I was a terrible wrestler and all that. That dude Jorge Masvidal can flat out wrestle. His performances have shown that, and everyone was like, ‘You got taken down by a guy who can’t wrestle. You’re just a boxer,’ and that is not the case. Danny Castillo is the duke of wrestling. I felt that when those guys got deep on my legs, I wasn’t wasting the energy and I would go to my back and dirty box them from there. Do they really want to be in my guard? I landed 67 more strikes than Castillo landed in the fight off of my back. I split Jorge Masvidal open off of my back. Those guys took me down, but ultimately, did they really want to be there?

“I think the judging needs to kind of sway in that favor a little bit. The guys might be on top, but what are they really doing with the positioning. My goal here in this fight and in future fights is to dictate and show people I can wrestle, I can scramble and being at 155 limited that for me. Being able to scramble and get these good wrestlers off your legs when they are in deep is hard to do when you cut so much weight. The camp right now has gone really well. I want to dictate and show people that I am a mixed martial artist, not just one-dimensional.”

Judging has long been a point of emphasis for fighters, commissions and the MMA media. Everyone see the flaws in the current system, but nothing has really been done to address the issue.

“You get so many points for a takedown. How come when you stop eight to 10 takedowns, that doesn’t sway the judges a little?” Means argued. “You can think of the [Phil] Davis-[Lyoto] Machida fight or even the [Robbie] Lawler-[Johny] Hendricks fight. Hendricks got a couple of takedowns, but he also got eight to 10 takedowns stopped. How come that doesn’t count? That takes a lot to stop takedowns. It’s the same effort that is given to get a takedown as it is to stop one. I just really feel that defensive wrestling isn’t in MMA, only offensive wrestling is. We have the style, we have the art of wrestling in MMA, but how come there’s only offensive points for wrestling? How come when you hit sweeps and get back up to your feet, that stuff doesn’t count either? I’m not really sure all commissions are on the same page and everyone looks at fights differently. With MMA starting to evolve, I think judging needs to evolve with it, and it is still behind the times.

Means (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Means (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

“I think the scoring system is okay. I just feel that there are just a bunch of judges that don’t have any MMA experience that are judging fights without really knowing anything about it. I think that’s what it comes down to. They don’t have enough experience in it. I think these judges and these commissioners, if they are going to be involved in MMA, I think they need to take some type of training other than just throwing a vest on and throwing some credentials around.”

Means cannot control how fights are judged, but what he can control is what happens in the cage with Magny, an opponent with a decisive five-inch reach advantage.

“If he used his reach as a long guy, he would be deadly. But [he] doesn’t use his reach,” Means said. “He fights like a short guy. His hands are real close to his chin. He kind of doubles up his jabs a little bit, but just doesn’t fight like a tall guy.

“We’ve brought in a lot of tall guys for this camp. Magny wants to throw punches, then get inside and clinch, and that is not using his reach. It’s something I have to pay attention to, and I can’t underestimate him there, but at the same time I am expecting him to close the distance and get the body lock and work for those underhooks. That’s where I feel he wants to be at. If he want’s to use his reach, I will have to readjust. He doesn’t look to have a whole lot a pop, but you can’t underestimate anyone in the UFC or anyone who is wearing four-ounce gloves, for that matter.

“I can’t think of what he does good. I just have to go in there and do what I do good. I really like being on my feet, but I want to go back to being a mixed martial artist and show people that I have evolved. The thing is, in the fights where I got wrestled and taken down, I wanted to stay on my back and dirty box from there. You either evolve in this game or you get out. If I need to be a kickboxer or a boxer, then I need to go do that. But I want to be a mixed martial artist, and I need to get better at those arts and that’s what we have done.”

At the end of the day, though, being a fighter is only a small part of Means’ identity. His story of redemption is amazing. He almost died from a gunshot wound, got addicted to painkillers that led to a meth addiction that ended with him going to prison for four years. While he never set out to change lives, he does want to make a difference.

“When I say ‘we,’ I mean me and my fiancé. We go talk to juvenile courts here, the drug courts here in Albuquerque,” Means said. “We talk to the Don’t Meth With Me for meth awareness.

“I wasn’t looking at telling my story to try and change lives, but I see a lot of kids that do look up to me, and if I can just tell them my story and I change one out of 50 lives, then I feel pretty good about that—talking about my past and hitting rock bottom and I’ve fought the most addictive drug in the world. I’ve climbed back up and I’ve looked through prison windows. I know I wanted to do something with my life, not that punching people in the face makes me a better person, but the fact that I’m achieving things and I’m achieving goals and I’m fighting on the highest levels possible and I’m talking to kids in the community about bettering themselves or working on their tempers, that makes me feel good.

“I’ve been in the toughest fights against myself with drug addiction, so getting punched in the face isn’t all that scary at all.”

Tim would like to thank his team at Fit NHB, his coaches and his team for always pushing him whether he is winning or losing. He would also like to thank his sponsors: TKOVapor.com, Damage Control, the Library Bar and Grill and all of New Mexico. Follow Means on Twitter: @MeansTim

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.