Travis “Hapa” Browne probably won himself a lot of fans on Saturday night and in doing so, raised proud the Hapa flag in the heavyweight division. In a fight that many, including myself, had picked him to lose, Browne pulled off one of the greatest come-back victories (I’ve) ever seen.
Down, but not out, the six-foot-seven-inch tall Hawaiian somehow managed to survive a vicious onslaught of Alistair Overeem knees and punches and astonishingly, snatched victory from what appeared to be the open jaws of defeat, via his own KO of “The Demolition Man”.
To say that it was a thrilling event to witness would be a gross understatement and even more so if you’re a Hapa fan. His victory over Overeem is something that legends are built off of and probably something that every fighter, particularly a champion, would like to have on their resume. To take that kind of intense punishment only to come-back and win by KO is, for my money, the greatest of victories that a fighter can achieve. It’s the type of victory that cements a fight and a fighter in the hearts and minds of fans.
Exiting the ring and backstage, Browne gave what is almost an emotional interview (you can hear it in his voice) regarding his performance, what he’s made of, the referee that officiated the bout and where he stands in the division. In comment Browne stated:
“I’m not trying to take anything away from the experience, but this is what we expected…this is what we knew was going to happen, we didn’t know I was going to get my butt kicked in the very beginning like that, but the way we finished the fight we knew it was going to happen”
In terms of why he was so confident that he could win, Browne said he believes in himself and as such, nobody can stop him. As he put it:
“I’ve proved myself wrong so many times in life, where, ya know, if I believe in myself and push forward and I put the time and effort in, then I can accomplish anything I want.”
In terms of what hurt him he said it was the Overeem’s knees and one “looping hook to the stomach” that caught him and in recalling it, Hapa burped and said to Helwani “he hit me 30 minutes ago and it made me burp, right now.
Regarding referee Mario Yamasaki and whether or not he was surprised the officiate didn’t stop the bout when Overeem had him (Browne) down on the canvas and was beating on him, Hapa said “no”, and that Mario knows he’s a tough S.O.B.; that this is what he wants and that he’s not looking for a way out.
To the point, Brown said that all the while it was going on he was yelling to Yamasaki “I’m okay. I’m okay. However, Yamasaki was warning him “ya gotta move. Ya gotta move” and that's when he popped back up.
On the flip-side of the coin, Browne felt that the referee stopped the fight in a timely fashion and that had he not, that the Reem, who was out cold and limp according to Browne, would not have been able to defend himself. To the point, Hapa said after he hit Overeem the second time that he’d actually debated “standing up and walking away.”
In terms of where he is in the heavyweight division, he doesn’t seem to care. To Browne a number is “just something next to your name” and that in terms of his next bout, he just wants to keep fighting tough guys and challenging himself.
All in all, Hapa scored big on Saturday night. Not only did he score a tremendous victory in the Octagon, but he also and most assuredly scored new fans as he showed the MMA world what true toughness and heart is all about, and what it truly means to not quit.
Definitely give the interview a play. It’s worth hearing the emotion in his voice.