UFC 135 fight card: Travis Browne vs Rob Broughton preview

Two promising UFC heavyweights will be battling it out on the main card of UFC 135 this Saturday night (September 24, 2011) as knockout artist Travis Browne takes on UK prospect Rob Broughton.

Browne is on the heels of an incredible first round knockout of Stephan Struve, the biggest moment of his young career thus far. He holds eight first round knockouts out of his 10 career victories and he's hoping to add another to his hit list.

Rob Broughton is not a household name in the UFC, at least yet. He did big things in the United Kingdom and was victorious in his UFC debut 11 months ago with a third round rear naked choke. The Wolfslair fighter will be out to prove he can compete against the top UFC heavyweights with a big win this Saturday night.

Will "Hapa" add one more name to his growing list of first round knockouts? Can Broughton weather the early storm and ride out a victory? Which heavyweight prospect will take it to the next level this Saturday night?

Travis Browne

Record: 10-0-1 overall, 2-0-1 in the UFC

Key Wins: Stefan Struve (UFC 130), James McSweeney (The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale)

Key Losses: none

How he got here: Travis Browne got his start in early 2009, fighting six times in five months and demolishing everyone in his path. He competed in multiple organizations from King of the Cage, Gladiator Challenge and even Bellator.

"Hapa" punched his ticket to the UFC with a trio of knockouts in a combined 52 seconds from Nov. 2009 to Feb. 2010. He made his UFC debut against James McSweeney and cracked the Grudge-trained fighter's skull inside the first round to make his mark in the promotion.

The Alliance MMA fighter was thrown to the wolves in a "sink or swim" match against Cheick Kongo at UFC 120, but Kongo seemed to have a fascination with Browne's shorts, clutching on to them like they were made of the finest silk. Due to a point deduction, the bout was ruled a draw.

Browne got a shot against the gigantic Stefan Struve at UFC 130 earlier this summer and knocked "The Skyscraper" down with a huge right hand when the giant went for an ill-advised flying knee after holding his own for the first few minutes.

With a bout against Rob Broughton this Saturday night, it appears the UFC is taking their time in developing the Alliance MMA fighter.

How he gets it done: Travis Browne packs one hell of a punch. He's got as powerful a right hand as just about anyone in the UFC heavyweight division and he can end a fighter's night very quickly if he can land it flush.

The key will be for Browne to show up in terrific shape, like he did against Struve, be light on his feet, and take advantage of Broughton's defensive liabilities. Browne should be able to get in, land strikes, and get out before Broughton can react with his freestyle wrestling and submission grappling base.

Broughton is also a bleeder so if Browne can get inside and smash him in the face with short punches and elbows, he has a terrific opportunity of ending this fight via doctor stoppage as well. The key is to always move forward and pressure the Brit as he doesn't exactly like having someone constantly in his face.

Browne would be wise to keep this fight on the feet, although he is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, his odds of winning will shoot up drastically if he can force his opponent to stand with him where he'll have a tremendous striking and power advantage.

Rob Broughton

Record: 15-5-1 overall, 1-0 in the UFC

Key Wins: Neil Grove (Cage Rage 25), Vinicius Queiroz (UFC 120), Oli Thompson (ZT Fight Night: Heavyweights Collide)

Key Losses: Ricco Rodriguez (Cage Gladiators 9: Beatdown)

How he got here: Rob Broughton began his MMA career seven years ago fighting in Liverpool, England, but would not truly begin to make his mark on the UK scene until joining the Cage Rage promotion two years later. He won the Cage Rage heavyweight title against James Thompson and would go on to defeat the likes of Butterbean and Neil Grove in the promotion.

In 2009, he signed with M-1 Global and would compete with "Team England" during a special challenge season. Broughton went 3-1 during a span of five months. What truly put "The Bear" on the map was the ZT Fight Night: Heavyweights Collide event in January of 2010 in which Broughton fought in a single night tournament, winning three times to earn the tournament crown.

This drew the attention of the UFC, which gave him an undercard spot against Chute Box Brazilian heavyweight, Vinicius Queiroz at UFC 120 in London. Despite the fact that Queiroz would be busted for steroids after the fight, Broughton imposed his will on his opponent, eventually earning a rear naked choke submission in the third round.

The Brit was scheduled to return at UFC 131 but would be delayed by injury and he's finally ready for Saturday night.

How he gets it done: Broughton has a pretty well-rounded game. He's scored seven knockouts in his career, five submissions and has earned three decisions. He trains out of Wolfslair MMA Academy in England alongside some of the UFC's best UK fighters.

Broughton has a submission grappling and freestyle wrestling base, but his left hand carries some serious knockout power as well. He does not have the prettiest stand-up technique out there, but he can be sneaky fast with that left hand and can catch his opponents off guard with it. 

Don't be surprised to see Broughton stand for a bit, maybe test Browne's striking. If he feels he's on the losing end, he'll likely shoot for a takedown and try to make this a grueling ground battle.

One of Broughton's best attributes is his ability to take fights into later rounds and eventually overwhelm his opponents as they tire. That would be the wisest plan of action against Browne, a fighter who has slowed noticeably late in his fights (on the rare occasions they go past the first round.) 

If Broughton can force this bout into the third round, he will really give himself the best chance to win. It will likely be ugly, but that's the best plan of attack.

Fight "X-Factor:" This is Broughton's first major exposure on the international level. He was buried on the undercard in his UFC debut against a fellow newcomer to the Octagon. This will be completely different. He's an attraction on the main card of a very important UFC event featuring a light heavyweight title fight. 

On top of that, he's being thrown in against one of the best rising prospects in the UFC heavyweight division. This bout could very well hinge on how Broughton responds to the bright lights on the really big stage. He needs to follow his gameplan to a "T" and not let the butterflies get to him if he stands a chance at pulling off the upset.

Bottom Line: This fight has potential to be fantastic, but it could also be a grinding, grueling affair. Travis Browne has some incredibly heavy hands and a mean streak but he also tends to slow down drastically after the first round. If Broughton can somehow get this fight out of the first, the pace will slow drastically and it could get really ugly. Expect to see either a wild one round slugfest or a three round gas-fest. There's a high possibility for both to happen. My money's on the exciting one round slugfest, though.

Who will come out on top at UFC 135? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!

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