26-year-old Tim "The Terror" Goodwin is one of the top pro MMA fighters in the state of South Carolina. And to hear him tell it, he's one of the most unlikely candidates to hold such a position. Despite picking up the sport of wrestling for the first time after he'd already entered high school, Goodwin worked hard and became a fairly good wrestler in the matter of a few short years. Still, this 5'9" Bantamweight doesn't consider himself a natural. Perhaps, then, his success is a testament to the value of hard work, good coaching and training partners? Whatever the reason for his success, 135 pound fighters in this region now have a serious threat to deal with. After a 4-1 amateur career, Goodwin turned pro in 2008 and has amassed a professional record of 4-2. Perhaps more impressive is this figure: 64.7%. That's the combined career winning percentage of the opponents that Tim has faced thus far. On Saturday night Tim will be locked in the cage with yet another formidable opponent when he takes on undefeated challenger Andrew Higgins. None of this is new to Goodwin, though. He has always enjoyed a good challenge.
Rich Wyatt: When were you first introduced to martial arts/combat sports?
Tim Goodwin: I started training in Tae Kwon Do when I was about 10-years-old and did that for a few years. Growing up, I was always a fan of Kung Fu movies and I saw some of the old UFC events and enjoyed watching them. Some friends trained in martial arts with me and I jumped in too. I got burned out on it and in high school I started doing wrestling.
Rich Wyatt: Speaking of which, you had a successful run in the sport of wrestling during high school. How did that come about?
Tim Goodwin: Basically, I wanted to participate in a school sport and was trying to find which one was a good match for me. I was 5'4 and 105 pounds and the time so I was too small for basketball and football but I loved contact sports so I went out for wrestling. My first year was horrible, man. I was 1-25 my first season. By my 12th grade year I was ranked in the top 10 in the state and I was a team captain. I improved dramatically in just those few years.
More after the jump:
Rich Wyatt: That's impressive, especially given that most guys that have success in the sport of wrestling start training in that sport as young children. Have you always been able to pick up sports fairly quickly?
Tim Goodwin: Actually, I've never been one to pick things up quickly. My friends in college think it's funny that I'm paid to participate in a sport. Guys would look at me and think I can really play, then once they're on my team they pick me last after that. (Laughs) I'm not the most coordinated guy as an athlete but I've done okay in the realm of wrestling, MMA and combat sports.
Rich Wyatt: What was your experience wrestling at Appalachian State like?
Tim Goodwin: For the most part it was great. The first year was really rough going from high school to college. South Carolina is not traditionally a good wrestling state. I was a good high school wrestler but I took a lot of beatings that first year. I kept getting better and better. I had great coaches and workout partners. The campus and atmosphere in Boone, NC is nice. I think the whole experience made me much better and helped shape me into a tougher person. As an athlete, one thing that is really tough about wrestling is that you only had an hour to recover from a weight cut so I wasn't as fresh as I'm able to be in MMA where I have a full day to recover.
Rich Wyatt: That's a good point. When did you begin training and preparing to compete in MMA?
Tim Goodwin: Once I moved back to Columbia I searched for a place to train, mainly to give me a hobby to explore and something to help keep me in shape. I ended up training at Columbia Martial Arts. I truly never thought I'd be a pro fighter. I just wanted to keep myself in shape and ended up really being sucked into the whole MMA scene.
Rich Wyatt: After compiling an impressive 4-1 record as an amateur, you've gotten off to a pretty good start as a professional. How have you improved as a fighter since turning pro in '08?
Tim Goodwin: I think the biggest improvement is probably my ability to finish fights. As an amateur I was probably one of the most boring fights out there. Three of my four amateur wins were by decision. I was often turning fights into a pure wrestling match. I just still wasn't comfortable yet with submissions or ground and pound. Both my ground and pound and submission skills have gotten better since I've turned pro and I‘ve become more well rounded. Plus, I just got sick of getting booed . (Laughs)
Rich Wyatt: Tell us a little about the team that you currently train with down in Columbia, South Carolina.
Tim Goodwin: The training that we receive at Columbia Martial Arts is well rounded. I've got access to a boxing coach named L.J. that I'm able to work with fairly often. Damon Yost is a purple belt under Machada and he trains me in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Sam King does a lot of MMA training and helps with my standup also. I crosstrain at a few other places, also, to get some variety and a different perspective. I learned from wrestling that the guys you train with really help make you a better competitor. I learned more in my years at Appalachian State and having to work hard in the wrestling room than I did from being one of the best guys in the room in high school. Picking things up from your teammates helps a lot as a fighter.
Rich Wyatt: Who are some fighters that you train with that fans in this region should watch out for in the near future?
Tim Goodwin: There are a lot of guys around this area that train. Everybody at 170 or 185 needs to watch out for Josh Eagans. He's 3-1 as a pro and was 5-0 amateur. He's got KO power in his hands and kicks harder than just about anyone I've ever met. He's got good wrestling and a good submission game. He's someone I wouldn't be surprised to see in the UFC within a few years. He's only 21-years-old and he's only been training for maybe 3 years but he has a lot of potential.
Rich Wyatt: What do you currently do for a living?
Tim Goodwin: I work at a chemical company down here in Columbia. We have an onsite fitness center and I'm a Health Fitness pro. I help run their fitness programs. I majored in Health Promotion while at Appalachian State so this was an ideal job for me. I'd like to train full time but this job allows me to stay in the gym and my schedule isn't terribly restrictive, either.
Rich Wyatt: Besides training, what other things do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Tim Goodwin: Simple things, mostly, like hanging out with friends, playing video games and going to the movies. If I don't have a fight coming up I'm able to do some fun things like that.
Rich Wyatt: You've got a fight scheduled on Saturday, May 8th in the main event of the "Caged Chaos" event there in Columbia. Tell us what you know about your opponent and what fans can expect to see next Saturday.
Tim Goodwin: My opponent is Andrew "The Wolf" Higgins out of Marietta, Georgia. He's 2-0 as a pro, both wins by armbar. He's a taller fighter, about 5'11". This is the first time that I've fought a guy with a height and reach advantage on me. He's got a good standup game. His wrestling isn't that great and I have an advantage there. He's finished all his opponents and I've finished my opponent in every win except one. We're both guys that will push the pace and go for an exciting finish so it should be a good fight. We have a common opponent, a fighter named Phil Sehunuk. Andrew beat him by armbar in the 2nd round and I beat him last October by arm triangle in the 2nd round.
Rich Wyatt: What are your goals for the rest of 2010? Would you like to stay active?
Tim Goodwin: I hope to stay pretty active. I'm looking at some options for June. Hopefully, I'd like to get about 3 more fights in before the end of the year. Fighting 5 times a year would be great. I'd like to keep pushing hard in practice and getting better at striking, grappling and everything else. And hopefully eventually I can get an opportunity to fight on one of the big shows: WEC, Bellator or a show like that. I know Bellator is planning on having a 135 pound tournament this Fall. If I can put some more wins together that would be great and I might get an opportunity to fight on a show like that and get some good exposure.
Rich Wyatt: Which fighters do you enjoy watching the most?
Tim Goodwin: One fighter that I really enjoy watching is Georges St. Pierre just because of his style and the fact that he seems to be good at everything. He's able to break his opponents down and put them in a position where they are at their weakest. His wrestling skills are phenomenal, too, for someone that didn't grow up competing in that sport. That's something I'm really impressed with, his wrestling ability and how he uses it to dominate guys. Wanderlei Silva is also fun to watch because of his aggressiveness. I've met him before and he's a nice guy but he flips that switch when it's time to compete and he goes in there and goes for the kill from the bell. The nickname of "The Ax Murderer" is very fitting for the style that he brings into the cage.
Rich Wyatt: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. Are there any sponsors that you'd like to thank?
Tim Goodwin: I'd like to say thanks to everyone at Columbia Martial Arts, Never Tap Fightwear, Get Rung, Cageside MMA and also Body Maintenance Massage Therapy.
MMA4Real would like to thank Tim for taking the time out to speak with us. We would like to wish him good luck in the future and we hope to have him on again.