Although Cain Velasquez is expected to fight Fabricio Werdum next, when the heavyweight champ returns from shoulder surgery, the winner of this Saturday’s Travis Browne-Josh Barnett scrap will be sitting pretty in the title shot mix. After all, Barnett is one of the sport’s best heavyweights to date, while Browne continues to work his way to the top of the division.
Recently, Browne spoke with UFC.com about his aspirations, and why he believes he has the tools to be one of MMA’s best heavyweights. Here is some of what “Hapa” had to say:
“I feel like I’m bigger, stronger, faster than I have ever been before and I haven’t even touched my potential yet,” said Browne. “I’m on that ladder and I’m headed towards the top. Unfortunately, Barnett is in my way, so I’m looking to get through him and do it in convincing fashion.”
A Browne dramatically better than the one we’ve already seen is indeed a scary thought. The heavyweight may be the bigger, more powerful and athletic fighter, but in Barnett, he’s facing an aggressive and rugged vet whose grappling game is a threat to any man.
“I have a decent base in the ground game, but I like to stand up and fight,” noted Browne, while discussing his ground skills. “I don’t want to just roll around with people. I haven’t shown too much of my ground game, but I’m very comfortable there. I’m always trying to implement new striking techniques and ground techniques. I’m on the ground everyday, learning stuff, working on stuff, working on technique, and getting used to that grind. Some of the top guys in this division are grinders. That’s exactly what Barnett is, a grinder. He’s going to try and grind you against the cage and beat you up. That’s something I have been training for for a while.”
It’s an interesting fight on many levels, and if either man scores an impressive win, chances are they’ll lock up the #2 contender spot behind Werdum. Depending how Velasquez’s recovery goes, they could even fight Werdum in a title shot eliminator sometime in 2014.
UFC 168 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.