For the first time in his mixed martial arts career, Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch will be in the UFC’s main event.

But the veteran has not been the focus of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night (FoxSports1, 10 p.m.) middleweight bout in New Orleans. Instead, Boetsch’s 44-year-old opponent has drawn much of the pre-fight attention.

Boetsch, 34, will fight Dan “Hendo” Henderson, a United States Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler in 1992 and 1996 with a 30-13 professional MMA record. Henderson captured attention after winning two fights in one night at UFC 17 in 1998. A champion in the old Pride and Strikeforce promotions, he’s been in the cage with some of the sport’s legends.

He’s also lost five of his last six matches. Much of the hype has centered on the strong possibility this will be Henderson’s final professional bout – or at least his last in the UFC.

It’s Boetsch’s job to make sure it doesn’t become Henderson’s final victory.

“As soon as I started fighting, I looked at Dan Henderson and said that’s the guy I wanted to be like,” Boetsch said. “Because he’s a tough guy, because of his wrestling background and he’s a good guy outside of the ring.

“Outside of the cage, he’s a legend. When the octagon door closes he’s just another guy standing in my way.”

The Boetsch-Henderson fight was already on the New Orleans card when it was elevated to the main event. The original main event was a light heavyweight bout between Daniel Cormier and Ryan Bader, which was canceled when Cormier was selected to fill in for Jon Jones at UFC 187 due to Jones’ suspension. Cormier beat Anthony Johnson in a championship fight.

“It’s my first main event and I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity,” Boetsch said.

Boetsch ramped up his training to prepare for the fight, which is scheduled for five five-minute rounds. He spent the better part of 10 weeks training with Marcus Davis at Davis’ Team Irish gym in Brewer.

Boetsch is 18-8 in his professional MMA career but just 2-4 in his last six bouts. The most recent win came last August in Bangor with a come-from-behind second-round knockout of Brad Tavares, his first fight with Davis as his trainer.

“Marcus has helped me reconnect with what motivates me to fight,” Boetsch said.

In his next bout, Boetsch had landed twice as many strikes when he got caught in an arm triangle choke hold, suffering a second-round submission loss to Thales Leites on Jan. 31.

“I slipped up for one second,” Boetsch said. “I knew it was a mistake while I was doing it and I paid the price by getting choked unconscious in front of the whole world. It taught me an important lesson. At this level you can’t be lazy in there for even a moment.”

Henderson has been in 10 previous main events, including seven championship fights. Of late his “conditioning has looked spotty,” Boetsch said. The only two knockout losses of Henderson’s career have come in his last four fights.

“I don’t want him to be able to rest at any point and try to pace himself if he gets the idea it might go the distance,” Boetsch said.

Despite their wrestling backgrounds (Boetsch was a four-time high school champion at Camden-Rockport and wrestled collegiately at Division I Lock Haven), both men have become known for power strikes while on their feet.

“There’s definitely going to be some heavy hands thrown,” Boetsch said.

Boetsch said Henderson is still dangerous due to his experience and strong right hand.

In an interview with MMAJunkie, Henderson gave Boetsch his due – sort of.

“He’s just a scrappy dude; not the most technical guy. He’s dangerous because he keeps going,” Henderson said in the web cast. “I don’t want to say he’s good at getting hit but he can take a punch and keep going.”