People have been kicked off The Ultimate Fighter for less than what we saw Junie Browning do this season, but through it all he managed to stay on the show and endure to the semifinals. After his loss to Efrain Escudero last night, Browning talks with Cage Potato about the person he was and the fighter he’s become, and he promises that we’ll all know the difference when we see him on next Saturday night’s Spike TV finale.
CagePotato.com: So after everything that happened, how surprised were you that Dana White didn’t kick you off the show?
Real surprised, actually. Especially after what Dana said the first time and what happened. But I’m sure everyone wanted to see me get my ass kicked, so that was a good reason to keep me on.
Were you knowingly sabotaging yourself and trying to get kicked off?
It was more the fact that I didn’t really care. I wasn’t ready to fight. I knew I was out of shape. I wasn’t prepared to fight so I just didn’t really care about the consequences. I would have rather just gone home rather than embarrass myself on TV. That’s not necessarily the way I look at it now, but that’s the way I was thinking then. It’s not a good way to look at it, but that’s how it felt.
You say you weren’t ready to fight, but in the beginning you seemed to be doing pretty well. Why do you think you weren’t ready?
The beginning of the fight, that wasn’t pretty well for me. That was horrible. I knew it at the time, while I was fighting, that it was horrible. I felt like every day I was on the show I was getting worse. I just wasn’t fighting the same. I wasn’t fighting explosive like I normally do.
If it was just that you were out of shape, why didn’t you spend more time beforehand working on your cardio so you would be ready?
Because you have to have people to help you. I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t really push yourself to do your own cardio. People who say that just don’t know anything about fighting. You can only push yourself so hard, cardio-wise, doing it by yourself. You need someone pushing you.
And you’re saying you didn’t get any help with that from Frank Mir or the other coaches?
Yeah. I mean, Shane Nelson was pretty much the only one helping me. Everyone else was just lazy as shit.
Now that you’ve seen what Mir said about you, what are your feelings towards him?
I don’t hold nothing against him. I could tell he was pretty disappointed I lost. But I don’t think he should have too much of an opinion since he wasn’t there helping out to begin with. He was sitting down in the corner, saying he was just going to watch because I wasn’t listening to him. Of course I can’t listen to you when I’ve never worked with you. You have to have some kind of familiar voice. He was never there in practice helping me with anything.
So now that you’ve got a spot fighting on the finale, what are you doing differently to get ready for it?
I’m killing myself. I came out here to Vegas to live and train at Xtreme Couture and when I come out to fight on the finale, I’m not even going to look the same. I’m going to look different, I’m going to fight different, and people are going to see. They’re going to see the improvement. They’re going to see why I should have been in the finals.
How has it been for you training at Xtreme Couture?
It’s been awesome. It’s like the complete opposite. Like when I used to have a hard time finding good training partners, here there are so many good guys, especially at my weight. I’m daily just trying to survive. Everyone is so good here, and they’re all trying to help me. They realize I’m not the same as I was on the show. They’re all cool with me and they all want to help me. I got hooked up with Shawn Tompkins and I’ve been staying with him. I just go back and forth to the gym every day and that’s about it.
From the show it seems like everyone wants to help you, except you don’t want to help yourself. Like you sabotage yourself at every opportunity, even when people keep giving you chances. Is that accurate?
Yeah, on the show, but it’s not like that now. People try to help me now and I take full advantage of it. People don’t take all the other stuff into consideration when they look at the show. You got cameras in your face, you’re stuck in a house with a bunch of penises. There are no girls, no nothing. I’m sure getting laid a few times would have helped me a lot on the show.
There are other factors that come into play. I’m not saying the show is completely wrong, but I’m also not like that all the time. If I was, wouldn’t I be in jail by now? I think people who take that show too seriously are people who aren’t too intelligent.
When Dana White showed up to talk to you he was suddenly so sympathetic and understanding, way more than he’s ever been with anyone else on that show. Why do you think that was?
I think he saw potential in me. I think he knows the show can ruin some people. I think he saw that the show was getting to me more than some other people and he didn’t want to ruin my career just because of the show. When I’m back home with my friends and family I don’t act like that. When I’m around people who care about me I’m not like that. But being around all these different egos stuck in one house, it can cause some friction.
So what are we going to see from you when you fight Dave Kaplan on the finale?
I think people are going to see that I was the best one there. I’ve said from the beginning that I wasn’t the most experienced or polished. I was the least experienced of anybody there. But I think I have the most room for growth of anybody there. I don’t think a lot of those other guys have the potential to get a whole lot better. Every time I fight I get better. People are going to see that in this fight. I’m going to do stuff in this fight that people have never seen. I’m going to be technically and physically better than I’ve ever been, and it’s going to be obvious.
Why do you think they matched you up with Kaplan?
Probably just because of the little bit of drama on the show. And because, you know, he can’t be knocked out. I’m not going in there to prove anything to him, just to show everyone else that I was the best one there.
Now that the show is over, how do you regard the experience looking back on it?
It was a learning experience. It really opened my eyes to see where I could take this. I’d never been exposed to anything like this before. But now pretty much everyone in the MMA community knows who I am now, and I got to make the most of that. I learned just how I need to train. And also that I can’t blow up on people for everything, I can’t take stuff so personally. Especially in this sport, where you’re criticized all the time. I have to roll with the punches. I’ve come this far, I can’t lose it now.