Just because Travis Browne no longer trains with (and sees) Andrei Arlovski on a daily basis down at Jackson/Wink Academy (see where he relocated), doesn't mean that "Hapa" has developed ill will toward "Pitbull" ahead of their UFC 187 Heavyweight showdown.
If anything, Browne says he still sees Arlovski as a brother and has the same love for him as a friend now even though they are training at different camps and are expected to lay haymakers on each other on May 23, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada (details)
It's a hazard of the job, says Browne, who appeared on The MMA Hour earlier this afternoon to talk about what it's like to fight a friend, revealing how the bout came to be:
"Yeah, I was just told that's who I was fighting. I guess Andrei had accepted the fight before I got offered it. Joe (Silva) knows how I work and I think that's one of the reasons why they like me, is because I've never said no to Joe. I never make a BS excuse. He called, told me Andrei took the fight and we're fighting May 23. But, yeah, Andrei and I have a longstanding relationship; at least I think, for buddies, for fighters. For about three years now."
In fact, Arlovski was staying at Browne's Albuquerque, N.M., home when he agreed to the bout. And though that's a unique situation, Browne claims the friendship the two share won't change.
It just has to be put aside for 15 minutes on fight night:
"Yeah, his stuff was at my house in Albuquerque. It was a little different. But, what do you do? This is the first time I'm actually fighting a friend. But, the thing is, Andrei and I used to go at it in the gym for three years. Now, we are just getting paid for it. And it's in front of millions of people, with that pressure. Our communication has been pretty much fairly limited. I'm sure you can understand that. As soon as I found about about the fight, I hung up the phone with Joe Silva and I text Andrei. 'Love you buddy.' And he said, 'I know.' So I said, 'Good, just wanted to make sure you knew that.' And that's it. There is no love loss, I still love the guy, this is our job. It's something that we've talked about before. We just didn't think it was going to happen this soon."
The bout could have major title fight implications -- there is no clear-cut No. 1 contender in the 265-pound division.
Arlovksi is currently riding a four-fight win streak, including two wins inside the Octagon against Brendan Schaub and Antonio Silva. Browne, meanwhile, has won four of five and came one win close of vying for the title before running into Fabricio Werdum last year.
A win over "Pitbull" could get him back into the mix sooner rather than later. But, as Arlovski has shown through his recent performances, he's far from an easy out and is determined to make another title run before his MMA days are over.
Something "Hapa" knows all too well.