(‘Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?’ Photo courtesy of UFC.com.)
Some have criticized this season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter by calling it “The Junie Browning Show.” That doesn’t seem to bother Browning, who says he’s happy as long as people are entertained. And let’s face it, we are.
On tonight’s episode Browning takes on Rolando Delgado, which he promises is “the best fight this season.” He also discusses some of his drunken antics, the response from his co-stars, and living up to the expectations of his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. It all makes for an interesting conversation and a fitting interview for our one-year anniversary, since Browning says he reads Cage Potato “all the time.” Who the hell can blame him?
CagePotato.com: Now that you’ve seen a few episodes of the show, what do you think of how they’ve portrayed you?
I think it’s pretty much correct. They didn’t really edit me to look like an asshole. I did that myself. I think I would have liked if they played some of the clips of me goofing around with the guys, but it’s 100% asshole on the show.
What do you think was the correct percentage of asshole? 50%? 80%?
I’d say about 90% asshole. A lot of the stuff I was doing started off as playing around and went from there. Like me throwing peanuts at the guys and stuff, that started as just playing around, but people might not realize that and think I was just always being an asshole.
Is that how you are all the time, or was that just in that house and on that show?
I think it was the house and the combination of tequila and vodka. I’m not like that all the time. Back at home I’m not like that. I’ve never had to be carried out of a bar or anything like that. I think it’s just that place that turns you crazy.
Well what about when we see you getting drunk and out of control, then Dana White comes and gives you a talk and you’re almost kicked out, then a couple days later you’re sober and getting into it again with Efrain Escudero?
The argument with Efrain, I knew it wasn’t going to escalate or anything. We weren’t about to get into it then. It was more just shit-talking, and that happened between pretty much everyone in the house. I didn’t really have too much against him. Before that scene, they didn’t show it, but he was talking all about his wrestling, about how he was so much better, but they didn’t show that. They just showed me talking shit to him like I started it.
What about when you jumped over the cage after his fight with Shane Nelson? That didn’t seem like just shit-talking.
I was really just pissed there and I just snapped. I thought it might be a little easier to kick his ass when he was tired after a fight. I didn’t want to give him a rest.
When you see this stuff on TV now are you at all embarrassed?
It would be embarrassing if I was anywhere else, but around here (Lexington, Kentucky) I think people would have been disappointed if I didn’t act like that on the show. That’s how we are. Around here we all get drunk and try to fight each other, and that’s just at family reunions. You can imagine what it’s like when we leave the house.
Well I saw a local interview with you and your brother from a while back where you claimed to “piss excellence.” You seemed pretty sure of yourself there.
Oh, man. Yeah, that line was from a movie, “Talladega Nights.” But I mean, I get a lot of hate on the MMA forums for stuff I did on the show, but around here people see that and they give me high-fives on the street. I think people would have been disappointed if I didn’t represent Kentucky that way. If I was just sitting on the couch playing chess with the guys and twiddling my thumbs and talking about the economy, people here would have been real disappointed in me.
In general, do you think you have problems with anger?
Not as bad as it was on the show. I never get in any really big trouble back home. When I’m around all the people I know, people I’ve grown up with, I never get mad at them. And everyone around here knows each other so when I go out no one would ever try to throw my shit in the pool because they’re smarter than that.
So when you’re in the house, why drink at all? You’re in training, you’re trying to win a spot in the UFC, why not just stay sober the whole time and stay out of trouble?
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But when you get in there you’re so bored and you’re just waiting to fight. You have to find something to do and everywhere you walk in that house there’s liquor. You want to entertain yourself, and once you take a few shots everything’s more entertaining, like breaking stuff and throwing stuff in the pool. That becomes a lot more fun when you’re drunk.
On tonight’s episode you fight Roli Delgado. What should we expect from this fight?
It’ll be the best fight this season. We don’t lay on each other like Efrain does. We actually fight. Delgado’s pretty tough and he can take a punch, as you’ll be able to see on the show tonight.
We saw on the previews where you throw a black belt at him and shove him a little. Do you usually work yourself up like that before a fight, or was that just showmanship?
It was just more showmanship. I really have nothing against him, he was just an easy target. I always like to try to mess with someone and get in their head before a fight. I knew that throughout the whole time people kept talking to him about where he got his black belt, so I thought that would bother him. It was mostly just for show, just to get to him. I didn’t have anything against him personally.
So when did you first realize that you wanted to be a pro fighter? How did you arrive at that conclusion?
Because I’m pretty much not very good at anything else. I can’t read very good, so college wasn’t going to work out. I think it started when I started wrestling in high school and did a little boxing. Every Friday after school we’d have a big fight party and everyone would just circle up, like fifteen or twenty of us, and we’d just pick out different people and fight them.
Me and my brother were just naturally really good at it and we kind of dominated. Ever since then I thought I would really like to actually learn how to fight and do it professionally. So I joined a gym and it just sort of came naturally.
With so much of the show’s focus on you, how do you think the other cast members feel about seeing that each week?
A lot of guys from the show I know don’t like it. I go on the internet and I even see it on their MySpace pages and stuff. They say things like, “Maybe I should’ve got drunk more so I’d get more airtime.” I see on the blogs and some of them are upset about it. I heard a radio interview where one of them said, “You’ll have to tune in next week to see what goes on on the Junie Browning show.”
I’m sure they’re a little upset, but of course they didn’t get airtime because they were boring. It ain’t my fault they didn’t have any personality.
Did you do stuff to purposely get on TV?
Stuff I did wasn’t intentional, but the way I looked at it was, I’m not going to hold anything back just because there’s a camera. People want to see your character. You don’t always have to be a good guy for people to want to watch you.
A lot of the guys you can tell they were holding back in front of the camera, they wanted to seem like they were a golden boy, but that’s not really how they were. A lot of the guys in the house were really assholes, but you didn’t see that on camera. The way I went about it was to just be myself and not care what people think.
Do you regret any of the things you did?
Not necessarily, because it was very entertaining. I regretted some of it after I did it, but watching the show I try to watch like a normal person and I find myself thinking, ‘Man, I can’t wait to see what happens next.’ Then I remember that I already know what goes on. Or I thought, ‘They should really kick that asshole off of there.’ Then I realized, aw shit, that’s me.