Hawaiian heavyweight talks UFC 135, training at Jackson’s
After knocking out Stefan Struve in spectacular fashion at UFC 130 in May, many look at the anonymous Briton as a step back in competition for the unbeaten heavyweight, but Browne is not one of them. He’s only focused on moving forward, whether that’s against newcomers or whoever is number one.
“There is always somebody out to try and take what I have,” began the affable Browne, during a taping of The Next Big Thing podcast last week. “Just because he’s an unknown, doesn’t mean anything. People don’t know about him, but from what I’ve seen watching his fights, his interviews, his demeanor—you can tell a lot from a person—the man’s going to bring a fight, and I think this is going to be one of my toughest fights to date.
“He can take a punch and keep coming forward, he’s got decent ground work. As far as this being a step back for me—not at all. Every fight for me, I’m moving up the ladder. I don’t care if I fight a guy who is new to the UFC or the heavyweight champion; it’s always a step ahead, and I look forward to fighting anybody in the division. A lot of people said that about me when I was fighting Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve, and look what happened?”
What happened is that in the span of those two fights, the 30-year-old from Oahu who now calls Oceanside, California home stamped himself as one of the top emerging talents in the UFC heavyweight division.
Browne managed a draw against Kongo, thanks to a third round point deduction when the Kongo wouldn’t stop grabbing Browne’s shorts. Though he has criticisms about his overall performance, Browne admitted he was able to do some good things in the bout, including rocking Kongo early and forcing him to change his approach in the cage.
“Cheick Kongo was a stalemate,” recalled Browne, tracing his own experiences to emphasize his point about Broughton. “People expected me to get my butt kicked in the first minute of the first round, and I ended up rocking him, making him rethink his whole entire process of fighting me. All he could do the second and third round was hold me, and knee me in the leg for 10 minutes straight.”
His performance against Struve returned to the form that earned him a shot in the UFC in the first place. A little over four minutes into the opening round, Browne connected on a perfectly timed Superman punch, knocking the near seven-foot Dutchman out, sending him folding onto himself as he crashed to the canvas. The performance caught many by surprise, not only because of the outcome, but how well Browne moved inside the cage against the rangy Struve.
“I’m an athletic man for being 6’7” and 260 pounds. It was the first time—even Joe Rogan was like, `Wow, Travis is looking really light on his feet here.’
“Before, I’d fought guys that really could have fought in the light heavyweight division—even Cheick Kongo. When he weighed in, I think he was like 228 or something like that? That’s light. Phil Davis walks around at 225-230, Brandon Vera walks around at 240. Granted, Brandon’s not as ripped as Cheick Kongo, but if he wanted to, he could probably lose those 20 pounds to make that cut. So fighting guys that are actually true heavyweights, I love it because I’m the more athletic out of us, and I think it showed UFC 130.”
Despite experiencing tremendous success thus far, Browne made the decision not to prepare for this fight with the team at Alliance MMA in San Diego, opting instead for the altitude and all-star cast at Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“You hear such good things about Coach Jackson and the team that they have here,” offered Browne as explanation for what led him to New Mexico in the first place. “It’s something that the sport is [always] evolving. It’s something that I never want to be left behind—I always want to be ahead of the curve—so I decided to have my camp out here. I wanted to see what Coach Jackson and the guys out here had to offer. It’s been a great experience so far, and I can’t wait to have more of my camps out here in the future.
While he has certainly gotten all the physical preparation he needs to succeed Saturday night against Broughton, Browne admits that the mental approach Jackson brings to fighting has been what has helped him the most and has him eager to return for future training camps.
“Coach Jackson, he says it himself—he’s a psychologist, not necessarily an MMA coach, and that’s what he’s done for me with this fight. He’s gotten in my head, and helped me believe that I can do whatever I want to do in that cage.
“Having a guy like Coach Jackson that can get in your head a little bit, and help you develop even further than what I thought I was going to be able to develop in this one camp alone. He sets short-term goals and he sets long-term goals, and my short-term goals have meshed well with my long-term goals for this fight.”
And what are Browne’s short-term and long-term goals?
“I’m going for the knockout in the first round.”
When asked if fans can expect another Superman punch, Browne laughed. “You can make that the trademark, but I think I want to switch it up; show a little more of my striking dynamics, use a little bit more of my legs, but I wouldn’t mind another Superman knockout.
“I want to be on the top 100 knockouts, I want to have the top 10, all Superman knockouts, just different people falling the exact same; just doing the stinky leg and going head down into the canvas. I’m okay with that.”
Everyone would be okay with that—except for his opponents, of course.