UFC’s Browne eyes big opportunity Friday

Travis Browne.
October 3, 2012, 9:50 PM

Travis Browne was set to take on the biggest opportunity of his career this summer. Instead, he may have an even bigger one this Friday.

The 30-year-old, who fights Antonio (Bigfoot) Silva in an important heavyweight tilt Friday night in the main event of UFC on FX: Browne vs. Bigfoot in Minneapolis, was scheduled to put his undefeated record (13-0-1) on the line against veteran and well-known fighter Ben Rothwell at the fourth UFC on FOX show in August in Los Angeles, before Rothwell had to pull out with an injury. That would have been a much more high-profile fight for the Hawaiian who trains out of Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque.

Instead of the “City of Angels” Browne now fights in the “City of Lakes.” And the Target Center isn’t quite the Staples Center, nor is the exposure of the FX cable channel anywhere near that of the FOX network.

Still, Browne isn’t complaining, especially since he’s now headlining a card so there may well be more eyes on his fight than there would have been. Truth be told, he’s just eager to get back in the Octagon and do what he does best.

“I’m happy to be back,” said Browne, who is 4-0-1 in the UFC and coming off a submission of Chad Griggs at UFC 145 in Atlanta. “I haven’t fought since April and missed out on a huge opportunity when my opponent dropped out of UFC on FOX. But fighting Bigfoot on FX — in the main event — is a great opportunity for me, too.”

Browne entered the UFC in June 2010 with just about the most impressive run one could have — he had three straight wins by first-minute knockout, including two in a row in under 10 seconds. But they took place against lesser-known fighters in lower-tier promotions. Fans eyes’ may have been opened when he earned a fourth straight first-round knockout in his UFC debut, stopping James McSweeney with strikes at The Ultimate Fighter 11 finale.

After a draw against Cheick Kongo in his second Octagon appearance, he also notched wins over Stefan Struve (by knockout from a superman punch) and Rob Broughton (by decision).

“I’ve had some good wins, and I’ve had wins where I wish I could have shown more. The key now is to fight at the best of my ability for every fight. I’ve got a huge chance against a big name in Bigfoot, he’s beaten some top guys, and I’ve got to go out there and show the best of myself.”

Watch UFC Live: Browne vs. Bigfoot this Friday starting with two live preliminary fights streamed on Sportsnet.ca at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT. This is followed by the televised undercard and main card both on Sportsnet ONE starting at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT.

The other byproduct of their fight being a headliner is that it will be five-rounder, as opposed to three rounds had Browne fought Rothwell in August. That too is okay with him.

“I’m always looking to finish, but if it goes five rounds I am ready,” Browne said.

His opponent, meanwhile, doesn’t think he’ll need to be.

“Five rounds or three rounds, I don’t like decisions on my record,” Silva said. “I will do my best to finish Travis Browne inside two rounds.”

The 33-year-old Brazilian, who holds black belts in three disciplines (Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo and karate) and has been competing in MMA since 2005, has the experience edge over Browne, who has only been fighting since 2009. But the 6-foot-7 BJJ purple belt has a three-inch size advantage over Silva, who is not a particularly small heavyweight but often finds himself looking up at his opponents.

“(Browne is) the second or third person I’ve fought who is bigger than me,” Silva said. “But it does not matter, it is no problem. I know I can take him down to the ground and ground and pound him — for sure that is where I am very dangerous. But I have been training very, very hard on my standup.”

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