When Travis “Hapa” Browne joined the MMA Fight Corner, he came off like a laid back, easy going, joking type of guy. But make no mistake, on April 21st, when UFC 145 takes place at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, he’ll be looking to strike first and punish UFC newcomer, Chad “The Grave Digger” Griggs. And, if he wins, Browne claims Matt Mitrione will have to man up on a bet they’ve made and get his belly button pierced.
Former Strikeforce heavyweight Chad Griggs (11-1, MMA) will be making his UFC debut against the “Hapa,” who remains undefeated with 12 MMA wins and one draw to Cheick Kongo. On preparing for Griggs, the “Hapa” says, “I feel pretty good. I’m excited. He’s a guy that will bring a fight. He’s not one that will sit there and just try to outpoint me.”
Though Browne is coming off of a decision victory over Rob Broughton in Denver at UFC 135, he wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance. Browne explained, “It’s tough when somebody’s moving forward, but they’re moving forward defensively, they’re not opening up. I mean, it just doesn’t make for a very exciting fight. But at the same time, it’s my job to make sure they open up, and hurt them, and all they’re doing is playing defense. So, it was a give and take. I definitely wasn’t excited for the win last time, but I learned a lot from it, and I’m definitely taking it into this fight.”
Fight fans can be sure to expect both fighters, who combined have a knockout total of 18 in their 26 fights, to stand and bang. Browne knows it too and is eagerly anticipating the chance to exchange with Griggs, “With a guy like Chad, he comes at you and he doesn’t care where he hits you, he just wants to hit ya. So, you have to be careful with everything. He comes off at awkward angles and he just swings for the fences. And that’s what I like about him is he just brings that fight.”
Perhaps making the move from Alliance MMA to train with light heavyweight champ, Jon “Bones” Jones, at Jackson’s MMA will give him insight on new strategies that will allow him to impose his will on Griggs. Though Browne admitted that the transition was rough at first, being that he had to figure out when he could train and who his new coaches would be, he’s finally getting settled in to a routine. After training the last eight weeks with Jackson’s camp, he’s feeling like the change is for the better. “I’m excited about this camp. And, I’m gonna be in better shape than I’ve ever been before,” he stated.
Though Browne doesn’t have enough time invested with Jackson’s MMA to be able to provide an in-depth perspective on Jones’ rivalry with Rashad, he promised he will be rooting for him when he defends the light heavyweight title for the fourth time at UFC 145. “I’m training partners with Jones at this point, so obviously that’s who i’m gonna be pulling for.”
With the heavyweight division having all the buzz these days, Browne’s anxious to continue getting challenging opponents. With the Strikeforce heavyweights now in the mix and added depth to the division, the possibility of fighting against a quality opponent has exponentially increased. He added that UFC matchmaker, Joe Silva, will have his hands full sorting out the division, though creating fights that fans want to see, won’t be a problem.
Browne summed up what he thinks will become of some of the upcoming, high profile fights on the all heavyweight card at UFC 146.
Junior Dos Santos vs Alistair Overeem: “I think Dos Santos is gonna be too quick and too powerful for ‘Reem. Overeem’s a plotter now and you can’t plot against Dos Santos – he’s too quick and way too powerful, and I don’t think Overeem has that power anymore.” Picks JDS to retain the Heavyweight title.
Cain Velasquez vs Frank Mir: “I think Cain’s just gonna grind it out gonna keep a pace that Frank Mir can’t uphold. He added,”I think its because the way that he lost his belt was that one shot knockout, it wasn’t that he wasn’t completely out classed. He needs that shot to get back in there and show people that he was the champ for a reason.” Cain by TKO.
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva vs Roy Nelson: I think Silva’s gonna be a little bit too much for Roy. I think Roy does really good against some guys, but I think Silva’s just gonna be too much for him.” Takes Silva
Shane Del Rosario v Gabriel Gonzaga: “Del Rosario, if he comes in ready and just ready to deal with adversity in this fight then I think he’ll pull it out in the later rounds.” Pick Del Rosario
Mark Hunt vs Stefan Struve: “Struve’s a big boy and he’s awkward. So I think if Struve can grab him, and fall to his back with him, I think Struve can take it.” Pick Struve
If those matchups shape up the way Browne predicts, and Browne wins his bout, maybe he’ll get one step closer to getting in the octagon against a top contender. Even if it’s not his thing to call out anyone specific, Browne did reveal he’d made a bet with Matt “Meathead” Mitrione who could be fighting with a bit more flair if Browne wins. While Browne did not divulge all the specifics of the bet, he did say that Meathead will have to pierce his bellybutton if Browne wins. He also promised to bring Mitrione back to the MMA Fight Corner live, WIN or LOSE, to fully disclose the details of the bet, and hopefully see Meathead get his bellybutton pierced on the air. After all, Browne says everyone’s been warned, “No matter who you are, you’re not safe from my ridicule. I don’t care if you’re the heavyweight champ. I don’t care if you’re Bantamweight champ in Dominick Cruz, and Dominick Cruz is still my boy, but I’ll bust him as much as I bust a complete stranger.”