BANGOR — The Barbarian had become too civilized.

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch, a Lincolnville native, had listened to the advice. He was too raw, the mixed martial arts experts said, to reach the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. So Boetsch, who had won with his wrestling, strength and tenacity, began to focus on technique, using crisp, precise strikes and careful attacks.

And what did the refinements get the former four-time, state high school wrestling champ from Camden Hills? Three losses in his last four UFC bouts.

Boetsch had smoothed rough edges but lost his inner warrior.

Now Boetsch has come home to fight in Maine for the first time. His job in UFC is likely on the line Saturday against Brad Tavares in a three-round middleweight bout, part of UFC Fight Night at the Cross Insurance Center.

It is time for The Barbarian to rise again.

“I have definitely reconnected with The Barbarian and it feels good,” Boetsch said.

Boetsch, 17-7 as a pro and 8-6 in UFC, recognized he needed to make changes after losing via first-round submission to Luke Rockhold on April 26. Too much is on the line against Tavares (12-3, 7-2) to think the same process would produce better results.

This time Boetsch did not go to Washington state for a training camp with respected coach/trainer Matt Hume as he had for previous fights.

Seeking a connection to his youth and his previously rugged style, Boetsch opted to train in Bangor with a former UFC fighter, Marcus Davis. The two had worked out together when Boetsch was starting out and Davis was establishing himself as a UFC fan favorite.

But Davis said Boetsch still hadn’t fully committed to letting out his inner beast when he arrived in Maine.

“That first day in the gym I watched him going against my guys and I thought, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Davis said. “He was dancing around, throwing jabs and kicks to the legs. I called him over and said, ‘Who are you?’ I told him, ‘Don’t worry about my guys. You’ve got to go in there and beat them up. That’s who you are.’ He got more and more confident, and my guys got more and more beat up.”

The strategy became clear. Take the fight to Tavares. Crowd him. Push him, pummel him. Most of all keep the pressure on.

“I want the Tim Boetsch that is just primal Boetsch,” Davis said. “I need Tim to go out into this fight, no dancing around, no fancy punches and kicks. I need him to get in this guy’s face and literally smash him to pieces.”

The approach makes sense on two levels. Tavares is a superior kickboxer who is at his most dangerous when given space.

“If I let him punch and kick me all night he’s gonna win,” Boetsch said. “So I can’t let him do that.”

Plus it creates a mindset where Boetsch is on the offensive, and uses his strength and wrestling pedigree.

“This is my 15th UFC fight,” Boetsch said. “I really know what to expect when I get in the octagon. If I just combine my knowledge with that raw fighter mindset I think it’s going to be a really tough thing to stop.”

Which begs the question: Can a soft-spoken 33-year-old husband and father of three young children still unleash the beast for up to 15 minutes?

“I think anybody who has ever connected with that rawness that I’ve talked about, once you’ve experienced that, you understand it’s there, you can tap back into it,” Boetsch said.

Tavares said he hoped Boetsch wouldn’t “lay and pray,” using a backhanded MMA jargon for an often effective but boring style of clutching along the cage for most of the fight.

“He’s lost three of his last four and his back is definitely against the wall here,” Tavares said. “If he loses, which I intend to make happen, this could very well be his last fight in the UFC. Knowing he needs this win, the best way for him to do it is just laying on me and pushing me against the cage and squeaking out the decision. I hope we can give the fans of Bangor and Maine and around the world a good exciting fight.”

Boetsch waved off Tavares’ comment.

“That’s his way of trying to drag me into his style of fight where I stand right at the end of his punches,” Boetsch said. “He may have success with younger guys who don’t understand the sport and don’t understand what goes on outside the cage. Guys fall into that talking.

“I do my talking in the cage and he’s going to find out exactly what it feels like when I’m on him.”