Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Travis Browne and Matt Mitrione scrapped last night (Jan. 17, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 81 inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Browne has been struggling lately, losing two of his last three. To remain a member of the Heavyweight elite, Browne really needed a strong performance last night.
On the other hand, Mitrione has been trying to climb into the top 10 for some time now. The talented knockout artist has looked dangerous for some time now, but he still needed a major win to propel him into the rankings.
Instead, he came up short once again.
This one started slowly, as both men looked to work from the outside. Mitrione looked to charge in occasionally with some heavy shots, while Browne maintained a wide stance and attempted to land some long strikes.
The fight heated up to a dull simmer near the middle of the round, as Browne did some work with his front snap kick. Mitrione, meanwhile, landed a pretty hard right hook at one point, but on the whole neither man seemed to land anything significant.
However, the replay showed that Mitrione did stun Browne with a nice counter left, which likely earned him the round.
Mitrione started off the second round strong, landing a nice combination and another hard left hand. Just as he appeared to be picking up some momentum, another eye poke -- Browne's second of the night -- derailed him and nearly stopped the fight.
The referee screwed up his handling of the situation, waiting far too long to call a halt to the bout, but luckily the fight continued regardless.
Following the break, Mitrione seemed to rush his exchanges a bit and put himself even more off-balance than usual. Browne took advantage with some hard kicks before scoring a trip from the clinch. Against all odds, Mitrione managed to return to his feet without falling into a submission, but Browne continued to work him over on the feet.
Though the score heading into the third was likely tied, Browne definitely had the momentum on his side.
After a couple minutes of hesitancy from both men, Browne planted his opponent into the mat with a heavy slam. From there, he quickly moved into the mount and began brutalizing his opponent. Browne toyed with the idea of some submissions, but before long he committed to his ground strikes and overwhelmed his opponent, forcing a stoppage.
It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win.
This was a hugely important win for Browne. It may not inspire much hope for a championship run, but it prevents Browne from dropping down the rankings and keeps him in the mix.
The best part of Browne's attack was definitely his long kicks. Browne can do serious damage with his roundhouse and front snap kicks, and in this bout they served the important purpose of keeping Mitrione from charging in too often.
On that note, Browne is still far too hittable to be a truly elite Heavyweight. If "Meathead" can land that often with clumsy flurries without setup, the elites of the division will be able to crack him frequently.
Nonetheless, Browne deserves a top 10 opponent in his next match up. For example, a fight with Mark Hunt would make sense for "Hapa."
Mitrione may not have any real technique behind his offense, but it was working well for him in the first half of the bout. However, the combination of eye pokes and body kicks from his opponent definitely slowed him down.
Once Mitrione loses his explosiveness, he's a non-threat.
It's hard to see where Mitrione goes from here. He hasn't developed to become technically competent in any aspect of his game, so it's not like there's one hole for him to fix. In all likelihood, he's reached his ceiling just outside the top 15.
Which is a shame, considering his natural talent and access to high-level coaching.
Last night, Travis Browne pounded Matt Mitrione for a stoppage win in the final frame. Where does the Hawaiian go from here?
For complete UFC Fight Night 81: "Dillashaw vs Cruz" results and play-by-play, click HERE!