The various MMA websites show Tim Means’ record in 2016 to be 1-0 entering his fight tonight against Brazil’s Alex Oliveira. That’s not wrong, but it’s incomplete.
Yes, the Moriarty welterweight defeated Sabah Homasi by second-round TKO on Aug. 20 in his only previous UFC fight of the year. By no means, though, was that Means’ only fight of the past 12 months.
There was the fight for custody of his daughters, Kristina, 8, and Lilly, 7, from a past relationship. Means believed the girls were at risk and fought in court to bring them from Oklahoma to live with him, his wife, fellow fighter Brenda Gonzales Means, and their two young adopted sons, Jacob and Danny.
There was the fight for his reputation and reinstatement after testing positive in February for a banned substance. Faced at age 32 with a potentially career-ending, two-year suspension, he went into arbitration contending that the positive test was the unintentional result of having ingested a tainted supplement.
He won. Though USADA handed down a six-month suspension, saying Means in any case bore responsibility for what he put in his body, the decision acknowledged that his ingestion of the banned substance Ostarine was an accident.
And, tonight, there’s the fight against Oliveira (15-4) on UFC 207 in Las Vegas, Nev. The Means-Oliveira fight is available only on UFC Fight Pass, the organization’s digital streaming service, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Will he win? If not, Means (26-7-1) said from Las Vegas in a phone interview, it won’t be because he’s not fully prepared.
On paper, this is a matchup of strikers. Of Oliveira’s 15 wins, 10 have come by KO or TKO. Of Means’ 26 victories, 18 have come via that route.
Means said he sees other possibilities and has prepared for them in his work at Albuquerque’s FIT-NHB gym.
“They talk about (Oliveira’s) striking, but he’s gonna want to take me down and wrestle,” Means said from Las Vegas in a phone interview. “… I’m ready to show a skill set to people that think I’m (just) a striker.
“I feel like I’m in a great spot to show not just Alex Oliveira but everybody else that’s kind of writing off my wrestling that I can fire out and get out for takedowns and get out for submissions if I need to.”
In discussing the positive test and the ensuing suspension, Means does not use the term “blessing in disguise.” He does say that good things came from it.
The positive test scrubbed his scheduled Feb. 21 fight against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who trains in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink. Cerrone instead fought Oliveira that night – defeating the Brazilian, also nicknamed “Cowboy,” by first-round submission (triangle choke).
Means’ birthday is Feb. 20.
“I was able to be here in New Mexico for my birthday when I was supposed to be gone, and the (school) father-daughter dance was the night I was supposed to be weighing in,” he said. “So, it worked out.
“I was able to find a potentially dangerous substance in the supplement I was taking that could have hurt me in the long run, so it all worked out.”
Means returned to the octagon against Homasi, earning $62,000 – $31,000 as per his contract, that much more for the victory.
A win tonight over Oliveira, who has bounced back from the Cerrone loss with two victories, could put Means within striking distance of a top-15 UFC ranking, and a bit closer, perhaps, to the showdown with Cerrone that he still craves.
“I’m not interested in the Cerrone fight right now. I’ve got Alex Oliveira in my sights,” he said. “But ultimately, and I let (Cerrone) know, everybody knows I want that fight.”
WEIGH-IN: Means weighed in Thursday at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds for tonight’s fight. Oliveira weighed 170.5, an allowable half-pound over the limit.
Albuquerque’s Ray Borg weighed in at 129.5 pounds, well over the 125-pound flyweight limit, for his fight against Louis Smolka. Smolka weighed 125.5 pounds. The fight will go on as scheduled, but Borg will forfeit 30 percent of his purse to Smolka for having come in overweight.
Borg, Means’ former teammate at FIT-NHB, now trains at Jackson-Wink. The Borg-Smolka fight leads off the pay-per-view portion of the card, starting at 8 p.m.