Travis Browne is an undefeated heavyweight with 11 finishes among his 13 career wins. He's also mammoth, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds. Given his success and size, it would seem Browne would be a lock to be one of the most talked-about fighters on the UFC roster, yet he sometimes seems to remain in the shadows of other big men.
At UFC 145, he earned a submission win, only to see Ben Rothwell upstage him with a 61-second knockout of Brendan Schaub. At UFC 135, he outlasted the durable Rob Broughton, but Mark Hunt earned the spotlight by continuing his career resurgence. And at UFC 130, he flattened prospect Stefan Struve, a result that was at least slightly overshadowed by the high-profile beating Frank Mir laid on Roy Nelson.
August 4's UFC on FOX 4 was supposed to be Browne's turn, matched against Rothwell in the key heavyweight fight of the night, on network TV. Browne was set to have his showcase in front of an audience of millions. Unfortunately for him, Rothwell injured his ankle and was removed from the fight. Instead, he's been relocated to the October UFC on FX 5 main event with Antonio Silva, and despite the lost opportunity, Browne sees the change as a net positive.
"It's kind of bittersweet because as an athlete, I want to get in there and perform and I don't get the chance to this weekend," Browne said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "But I believe I have a bigger opportunity in headlining an event. Even though being on FOX is a huge, huge deal and the exposure is amazing, you cant go wrong with headlining an event. It doesn't matter if it's Fight Night, an FX card, a FUEL card, a pay-per-view or FOX. It doesn't matter. If you get to headline an event, I believe that's better than being on any main card there is. I’m happy with the opportunity and with my opponent. Bigfoot always brings it, he comes ready, and I think it will be a good one for the fans."
The matchup between Browne and Silva might seem counterintuitive to some, since Browne (13-0, 1 no contest) is undefeated while Silva (16-4) has lost two straight, both by finish.
But Browne has no issues with the pairing, noting that not only has Silva defeated the great Fedor Emelianenko in the past, but also that his consecutive defeats came to two highly regarded heavyweights: former UFC champ Cain Velasquez, and Strikeforce Grand Prix champ Daniel Cormier.
Based upon his own performance against Silva, he believes that observers will be able to compare him with those top names like Velasquez and Cormier.
"I think that's going to be what to talk about," he said. "Is it going to be, 'Oh, Trav just barely beat Antonio,' or is it going to be, 'Man, Trav just decimated Bigfoot?'" Now, how can we not talk about him and Cain and Daniel Cormier all in the same conversation, because they all fought the same guy and they all beat him pretty bad? So I think it’s about how I beat him will [determine] what people are going to talk about."
That's not to say Browne's current excitement was there the moment he got the word Rothwell was out of their FOX bout. He acknowledges that information came as a disappointment, especially because his training camp was in its late stages. He said that afterward, he indulged in junk food, including ice cream and beer for one night, then took a week off to "reset" his body, and now will prepare to start fight camp all over again.
The prospect of back-to-back camps with no payoff for the first sounds brutal, but Browne says it's all part of the process of working towards the top.
"I’ve said it before that fame money and women will all come and go in your life, so I'm not worried about the money," he said. "For me it’s about getting out there and enjoying my job, and getting to that climax of your camp. You've been getting your butt kicked daily and you don't get to show it off, with your hand being raised with thousands of people jumping around and screaming and hollering, the building shaking under your feet. That’s the part I miss, the part I’m frustrated I don't get to feel this Saturday night. But at the same time, don't feel bad for me because I spent the last eight weeks getting better, getting stronger, getting faster, building up my skill, and I’m a better fighter for it, and that’s something that Bigfoot will see come Oct 5."