Former UFC heavyweight title contender Travis Browne is in desperate need of a victory at UFC 213 on July 8th when he takes on Russian submission specialist Oleksiy Oliynyk live on the FOX Sports 1 preliminary card from Las Vegas. Browne, 34, has lost his last three Octagon appearances and is invoking the help of an old foe to prepare for his UFC 213 bout.
The Hawaiian heavyweight trained alongside divisional legend Josh Barnett a few weeks ago in hopes of rounding out his ground game for someone as good as Oliynyk. But before “Hapa” and “Warmaster” locked horns on the gym canvas, the two needed to squash some beef from their meeting at UFC 168, which Browne won via first-round knockout before taking a page out of Barnett’s book and gesturing a throat slit after the finish.
“He was upset, not about how the fight went, he’s very professional about, you win, you lose, it is what it is,” Browne said during UFC 213’s media day earlier this week (transcription courtesy of MMA Fighting). “But I know he was upset about me doing his thing after the fight.”
Luckily for Browne, he had a chance to clear the air with Barnett earlier this year during a brief meeting in Los Angeles.
“When I sat down with him, it was really the first time I allowed myself to understand how much of a legend that guy is in our sport,” Browne said. “The guy’s 20 years deep into this sport, and at the time, getting ready for [their fight], I’m like, ‘I’m going to knock this guy out.’ I didn’t let myself get anything other than that.”
In effort to determine Barnett’s state of mind as he sat across the table from a guy who knocked him out a few years back, Browne approached the situation with genuine honesty.
“I let my guard down a little bit and I just told him, look dude, we fought, everything happened the way it happened,” Browne explained “I was jacked. I was like ‘holy sh*t,’ right? The biggest win of my career. It was emotional, it was adrenaline, I did his move after the fight, and I just looked at him and said, ‘Man, I’m sorry. I’m not making excuses. I’m telling you right now that I was wrong for me to do that. That’s your thing.’ It wasn’t a jab at him, it wasn’t meant to be like ‘F you’ or anything like that.
“I took fault for that, to his face, sitting across the table from him. I gave him a chance to speak and I listened. I didn’t know if he was going to be be, ‘Hey man, that’s cool for me to do,’ or if he was going to be like ‘Hey man, f*ck you.’ He was a man about it. He told me he would coach me. He’s working with me. He took it the best way I could ever imagine.”
Fortunately for Browne, Barnett put the past behind him and agreed to help Browne prepare for “The Boa Constrictor.” After all, Barnett is a world-class grappler with an incredible amount of experience just waiting to rub off on Browne. Considering Oliynyk holds 42 career wins by way of submission, including his recent Ezekiel choke finish at UFC Fight Night 103, “Hapa” is going to need all the help he can get.
“His style and Oleksiy’s style, with the catch wrestling and the submissions, are very similar, so I called him up and said I’d really like to work with you if you have the time,” Browne said. “He cleared out four or five days for me a couple weeks ago and he’s been awesome. We talked about coaching me and being consistent, and man, he’s a good dude, a solid dude.”
UFC 213 will be headlined by a women’s bantamweight title fight pitting current champion Amanda Nunes against No. 1 contender Valentina Shevchenko.
For more UFC 213 fight card news click here.