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After squashing years-old beef, Travis Browne works with Josh Barnett

Travis Browne EL
Travis Browne

LOS ANGELES -- Travis Browne spent a week working with Josh Barnett leading up to Browne’s UFC 213 fight with Oleksiy Oliynyk.

That’s a smart move on the Hawaiian heavyweight’s part, given Oliynyk is a submission artist and the veteran Barnett is a master of catch wrestling.

But Browne never would have gotten to this spot if he didn’t apologize to Barnett first in order to settle a beef.

Back at UFC 168, Browne defeated Barnett, the former UFC heavyweight champion, via knockout in one minute flat.

After the fight, Browne made a throat-slashing gesture for the cameras, a move that was long a Barnett signature.

“He was upset, not about how the fight went, he’s very professional about, you win, you lose, it is what it is,” Browne said at Thursday’s UFC 213 media day. “But I know he was upset about me doing his thing after the fight.”

So a few months back, when Browne heard that years later Barnett was still angry about the gesture, he reached out to his former opponent, leading to a meeting in the Los Angeles area.

“When I sat down with him, it was really the first time I allowed myself to understand how much of a legend that guy is in our sport,” Browne said. “The guy’s 20 years deep into this sport, and at the time, getting ready for [their fight], I’m like, ‘I’m going to knock this guy out.’ I didn’t let myself get anything other than that.”

Browne wasn’t sure how Barnett was going to react, so he decided to just say what was on his mind and accept the consequences.

“I let my guard down a little bit and I just told him, look dude, we fought, everything happened the way it happened,” Browne said. “I was jacked. I was like ‘holy sh*t,’ right? The biggest win of my career. It was emotional, it was adrenaline, I did his move after the fight, and I just looked at him and said, ‘Man, I’m sorry. I’m not making excuses. I’m telling you right now that I was wrong for me to do that. That’s your thing.’ It wasn’t a jab at him, it wasn’t meant to be like ‘F you’ or anything like that.

“I took fault for that, to his face, sitting across the table from him. I gave him a chance to speak and I listened. I didn’t know if he was going to be be, ‘Hey man, that’s cool for me to do,’ or if he was going to be like ‘Hey man, f*ck you.’ He was a man about it. He told me he would coach me. He’s working with me. He took it the best way I could ever imagine.”

As Browne attempts to turn his career back around -- he’s lost four of his past five fights -- he’s branched out from the Glendale Fighting Club. Browne is training with Ricky Lundell and for a second straight fight will have Ray Sefo in his corner at UFC 213.

Barnett won’t corner Browne next week, but the duo trained together for several days and have kept the door open for future collaboration.

That wouldn’t have happened if Browne hadn’t made the first move to clear the air with Barnett.

“His style and Oleksiy’s style, with the catch wrestling and the submissions, are very similar, so I called him up and said I’d really like to work with you if you have the time,” Browne said. “He cleared out four or five days for me a couple weeks ago and he’s been awesome. We talked about coaching me and being consistent, and man, he’s a good dude, a solid dude.”

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