(Your daughter’s prom date is here…)
When I called Junie Browning to see how he was feeling a week before his first UFC fight since “The Ultimate Fighter” finale, he was out shopping for video games. It might not seem like it at first, but this is apparently a sign of how much his life has changed since moving to Las Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture and getting serious about his fighting career. Now he trains full-time. Despite living in Sin City, he doesn’t go out much. Instead he stays home and plays Killzone or Resident Evil 5 in between training sessions. It occupies his time. And it keeps him out of trouble.
“All I do is train now,” he said. “I’m in awesome shape right now. Better than I’ve ever been, training harder than I ever have. I’ve done more for this than I have for any other fight.”
At next week’s Ultimate Fight Night in Nashville Browning takes on former TUF contestant Cole Miller, who has vowed to “expose” and “smash” him. You’d think that kind of language would get a reaction out of the volatile kid from Kentucky we saw on TUF, but oddly, you’d be wrong.
“I don’t care. He can try and convince himself however he wants. I think that’s why he’s doing it. He wants to convince himself. His jiu-jitsu’s pretty good, but it’s nothing to really worry about. It’s real traditional gi-style jiu-jitsu. A lot of the stuff he does, it would be pretty easy to pound him out while he’s trying for some of those submissions he goes for. … I’ve been rolling with guys who are just as good at jiu-jitsu as him and who are bigger and stronger, and I have no problems.”
Browning is willing to admit that some of his antics on TUF were more of a calculated attempt to make fans remember him, though he isn’t willing to concede that it was all part of an elaborate plan, as fellow contestant Ryan Bader suggested.
“I knew that if I didn’t win the show, but if people knew who I was, I’d still get a shot. I didn’t necessarily put on a show, but you want people to know who you are and want to watch you fight. If people don’t want to watch you, why would the UFC keep you? No one wants to fight for any organization other than the UFC. That’s my biggest fear. I don’t want to have to go to any of those other shows and fight.”
Now Browning enjoys a peculiar kind of fame. People want to watch him fight, but that might be because most of them would like to see him take a beating for his brash behavior on the show. Why they’re watching doesn’t seem to matter to him, however.
“Am I worried about people liking me for the wrong reasons? Not really. Everyone wants to get their name out there. There are fighters who are really good who aren’t in the UFC. Problem is, nobody wants to watch them fight. The first step is getting people’s attention, and then the next step is showing them whether you’re a good fighter or not. I lost one fight on the show when I was dead out of shape. If people think I’m not a good fighter because of that, they don’t know much about the sport.”