Junie Browning: Cole Miller in for a Surprise at UFC Fight Night

Junie Browning was the most hated man on The Ultimate Fighter last year, a guy who seemed more eager to fight in the reality show's Las Vegas house than in the Octagon.

But now that Browning is off The Ultimate Fighter and in the UFC, is he a changed man? When I interviewed him on Wednesday, he told me that when he's not in the cage, he'd rather run away from a fight that get into one, and that he's been training hard for his upcoming UFC Fight Night appearance against Cole Miller (April 1 on Spike). The full interview is below.

You and Cole Miller have exchanged some words in various interviews. What do you think of him?
I don't have anything against him. I don't know why he's taking certain things -- the only thing I ever said was when someone asked me about his fight with Jorge Gurgel, I said I think it was a mistake on Gurgel's part not to utilize his jiu jitsu. I guess he took that the wrong way, and I don't understand why. But even before I said that he was saying stuff about me. It's really just him trying to create drama and hype. I'm not really worried about it. It won't change the way I punch him.

I interviewed him on Monday and he told me he thinks your ground game is elementary and you have sub-par technical skills. How do you respond to that?
He has no clue what he's talking about. He's watching the fights on the show, when I was on the ground one time. I did get submitted, but I was completely out of shape. If he's taking those fights into consideration, he's going to be very surprised.

Regarding your ground game, is that something you need to work on? It looked to me like in your fight with Dave Kaplan, you had a chance to submit him in the first round and he was able to escape after you got his back.
No, actually I'm better on the ground than I am anywhere else. Most people consider me a ground guy.

You're obviously aware that a lot of people have said you made the UFC look bad with the way you acted on The Ultimate Fighter, but I've also heard from a lot of people who have run into you since then and came away thinking you're a nice guy. How do you explain how much different you were on the show than you seem to be in everyday life?
Because there was free alcohol, a bunch of dudes and no girls. And plus, I'm on the main card, aren't I?

And is that what you took from the show -- The Ultimate Fighter put you in a position where you're well known?
Yeah, big time. If it wasn't for The Ultimate Fighter I'd still be fighting on small shows in Kentucky. I'm real happy. This has allowed me the opportunity to come to Xtreme Couture and train.

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) reacts after being defeated by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Keith Jardine

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (L) battles Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

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What has training at Xtreme Couture been like?
Awesome. A dream come true. It's every fighter's dream training scenario.

Is there any one aspect of your game that working at Xtreme Couture has improved?
My wrestling and my conditioning. And I've always been pretty good on the ground, but now I'm a little more technical standing. I used to try to brawl -- it wasn't that I didn't know how to be technical, it was just that brawling got me by in my fights and I thought that was exciting. But at this level I can't get by on brawling. Really, I've improved everywhere, but it's mostly wrestling and conditioning.

When I talk to other fighters who have trained at Xtreme Couture, some of them have said they didn't realize until they got there how hard you really have to work to get in shape.
Exactly. The atmosphere here, it's just so fast-paced. Every training session is pretty rough. There are no breaks. Back at home you'd get tired, then sit around for a little bit.

Who are the lightweights you work with the most at Xtreme Couture?
Gray Maynard, Tyson Griffin and Mac Danzig. I've also been working with Ryan Couture.

Everyone knows Ryan Couture because he's Randy Couture's son. How is he shaping up as a fighter in his own right?
He's going to be dangerous. Very dangerous. He trains like a professional. When I'm at the gym he's there all the time. His wrestling, his jiu jitsu, everything's looking real slick. And I don't think he's going to have a problem getting out of his dad's shadow because he's got a different style. Everyone's impressed with him, not because he's a Couture, but because he's a good fighter.

You named three pretty good lightweights you work with in Maynard, Griffin and Danzig. How do you think you stack up with them?

I feel like they're some of the best lightweights in the UFC. Some days I do real well with them, some days I don't. But I think with another year of training with those guys, I can fight with anybody in the UFC.

How much do you weigh right now, and is making 155 any problem?
No, it's really easy. I could fight at 145 if I wanted to. Right now I'm like 166 and I haven't been dieting too hard.

Would you consider moving down to 145?
If I ever left the UFC I probably would, but I like eating. Plus, training with these guys I've put on some muscle, and probably in a year or two it would be harder for me to move down because I'll have more muscle.

What do you think the big misconceptions about you are?
That the way I acted on the show is the way I always act. People change. I acted that way on the show -- so what? I drank too much and acted dumb -- how many college students haven't done that? Back home I never liked it when bigger guys picked on me, or when guys thought they were tougher than me and stuff. So when somebody said something to me, I wanted to prove that I could kick their ass. But now I'm at the point where if someone says something to me, I don't care. I'm getting paid too much to worry about what people say to me.

You're a recognizable person. There are going to be guys who see you and want to prove themselves and be able to tell their buddies, "I got into a fight with Junie Browning." Are you able to walk away when someone tries to start something?
I would run away before I'd fight anybody.

So if some guy who sees you at a bar says something, you're going to leave the situation, not end up in a fight?
Yeah, definitely.

What are your goals in the UFC?
I don't want to be done with the UFC until I get roads named after me.

That's a pretty ambitious goal.
It might not be in the next two years, it might not be in the next five years, but the thing about me is, when everyone else is not at the gym, I'm there. And also, something that not a lot of people realize, is that I have the least experience of anyone in the UFC. I've only been training for three and a half years. Before that, I had no wrestling background, no boxing background, no combative sports background. And I've improved pretty quickly. Within the next year or two, I'll catch up to pretty much everybody.

How did you get into MMA with no martial arts or wrestling background?
I went to a jiu jitsu gym because I had watched UFC and knew that jiu jitsu was a dominant form of martial art. From that, I just fell in love with it. Realistically, I never expected that I would have an opportunity to be in the UFC. I just liked to fight.

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