The paths of Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum have followed vastly different trajectories since the two heavyweights collided last month at UFC on FOX 11. Werdum has already been installed as the head coach opposite UFC champion Cain Velasquez on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, while Browne has largely remained in the shadows, electing to heal his broken body while figuring out what exactly led to his disappointing decision loss.
Browne finally broke his silence on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour, where among other topics, he explained his current physical and mental state after suffering a litany of injuries during the bout.
The trouble initially started early in the first round, he revealed, when his left hand broke while he was throwing at a volley of punches at Werdum.
"It felt like it exploded," Browne said. "And I kept trying to hit him with it but I just couldn't do it anymore. I felt the pain shooting up my left shoulder and trap and the left side of my neck. It felt like I was on the STIM machine or something, but not in a good way, in a very painful way."
A wayward kick followed in the first round, which led to Browne mangling the bones in his left foot. But that wasn't all, as "Hapa" suffered significant rib damage midway through the fight as well.
"A lot of people were posting a picture where he kicked me on the right side, and it wasn't that kick," Browne said. "It was something else. I don't even know what it was, but even now my ribs will shift a little bit.
"But for me it wasn't the ribs. The ribs weren't a factor. For me it was my left hand and then my left foot. Pretty much I had three weapons gone, because I couldn't kick -- I couldn't use my left leg to kick because it hurt like crazy when I would try to kick, I couldn't use my right leg to kick because I couldn't put all the pressure on my left leg -- and then during the fight I was just thinking, I can't keep my jab out there because it hurts too much to jab him, so if I'm going to throw my left, I'm just going to try to knock him out."
That Hail Mary strategy derived out of desperation is exactly what Browne now hopes to avoid if a similar situation should ever arise in his career.
"For any fighter, I feel like when it hits the fan and you just are relying on instinct, what are your habits? What do you go back to, just naturally?" Browne explained. "And for me it's trying to give big shots and trying to knock you out. But just like every other athlete, as you evolve in this sport, you start to be scouted, you start to be looked at, and guys now know I have that power to come back at any point in the fight, so they start avoiding that one big shot. That's what Werdum did a great job of.
"We have to change my habits, so that when the worst case scenario happens, I don't start just swinging for the fences. I still stay composed, I pick technique over power and I push the pace that way."
Injuries notwithstanding, Browne shouldered the full blame for his loss several times throughout the interview, adding that wasn't going to pin his performance on excuses. Browne also couldn't quite put his finger on why, but he admitted that he felt less motivated to fight Werdum than any of his past opponents, and that initially he didn't think Werdum presented the same kind of danger as Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett.
Obviously that proved not to be the case, as Werdum systematically dismantled the Hawaiian over 25 minutes, often to the point of outright clowning Browne en route to claiming the mantle of No. 1 contender.
Though while Browne said he was too distracted to notice Werdum's antics the first time around -- which included Werdum shouting, throwing his hands up, pointing to the floor, or begging Browne to jump into his guard -- upon a second viewing, the 31-year-old American not only noticed them, but found the endless parade of theatrics to be highly disrespectful.
"Watching the fight back, it's motivating," Browne flatly said.
"I saw some things (from Werdum) that I'm not okay with."
Regardless, Browne must now begin his climb back up the heavyweight ladder. Despite the loss, he remains ranked No. 3 in the division, and he hopes to heal up and return by October or November at the latest.
Until that time comes, though, Browne will simply have to reconcile his performance. It'll be a bad taste in his mouth, no doubt -- one he'll be unable to wash out throughout a painfully long summer -- but once he gets back to the drawing board and makes the changes that need to be made, he vowed that he'll come back "even more of a monster" than before.
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with," Browne said of the loss in closing. "Because everything aside, I don't make excuses. Werdum whooped my ass, and that's what I had to come to terms to. He just straight up kicked my ass. It doesn't matter about injuries.
"It was me. And that's one thing that I've learned, I beat myself in that fight and I need to figure out what I need to do in the future to change that. I need to go back and reassess a lot of things in my career and really figure out what I need to put in place in order to be successful again. People look at it, ‘oh, you're taking it kind of rough, this is just one loss, you had an off night, why are you saying that you have to reassess everything?' And it's because in this game, when you lose once, you could be one fight away from getting cut. So if you don't make the changes in your life that you feel you need to make to be successful again, then you risk running that loss again. So from A to Z, I'm making changes."