No. 3-ranked UFC heavyweight Travis “Hapa” Browne is headed for the biggest opportunity of his MMA career when he faces Fabricio Werdum for a potential title shot in the main event of UFC on FOX 11 on April 19 from Orlando, Florida.
Despite being out of action since submitting former Pride and UFC champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC on Fuel TV 10 last June, No. 2-ranked Werdum has maintained his lofty status. The all-world Brazilian jiu-jitsu master also believes he has a leg up on Browne, citing some training time he shared with “Hapa” three years ago:
“He knows how the training was. He knows that he doesn’t have a good ground game.” – via MMAJunkie.com
Those are some strong words from “Vai Cavalo,” but it’s undeniable that Browne has progressed by leaps and bounds since those days. Despite Werdum’s knack for taking some sharp barbs at his opponents, Browne insists he’s not going to play that game. Instead, he’s focused solely on the task at hand:
“I’m not just running my mouth and letting it go. Just let it be truth. Let it just be the truth. I’m all right. Because come April 19, that’s when it matters.”
Browne went on to claim that Werdum never submitted him in training, and stated the obvious fact that he’s a completely different fighter now:
“Ask him if he’s ever submitted me or not? I like to answer a question with a question on that one. We don’t really have to go into how it went in sparring, because both of us are two different fighters.
He wants to say I know how it went; he knows how it went, too. Look at me four years ago and look at me now. If he wants to bring that up, that’s only going to hurt him.”
With three straight victories over heavy-hitting competition in Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, and Josh Barnett, it’s hard, if not impossible, to accept the fact that Browne has matured to one of the finest talents in the sport. His only career loss came at the hands of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva after Browne tore his hamstring attempting a kick early on in the bout.
His elbows have become regarded as one of the most lethal weapons in the heavyweight division, and while Werdum says he may surprise by throwing a few of his own, it’s highly advisable for him to avoid striking with the surging Browne.
Will “Hapa” earn the next shot at returning champion Cain Velasquez later this year?