Travis Browne on Fabricio Werdum recalling past training: ‘That’s only going to hurt him’
When Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne step into the octagon in the main event of April 19’s UFC on FOX show, it won’t be the first time they oppose each other. The two heavyweight stars, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, were training partners once upon a time, but a very different time it was.
Back then, going on four years ago, Browne had barely gained a foothold in the UFC while Werdum was already world-ranked and on the verge of becoming the man who would end the great Fedor Emelianenko’s lengthy winning streak. One was a relative rookie, the other a veteran legend-killer, so it stands to reason that the older, more experienced fighter got the better of the younger one in training.
At least that’s what Werdum insinuated in a recent interview with MMA Fighting, when the Brazilian said, "He knows how how the training was. He knows that he doesn’t have a good ground game."
That comment did not sit well with Browne, who pulled back his modesty a bit to respond to Werdum’s claims in a Wednesday interview at Jackson-Winkeljohn in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"I would like to follow that up with a question to him: ask him if he’s ever submitted me or not?" Browne said. "I like to answer a question with a question. We don’t even have to go into how it went in sparring. Both of us are two different fighters. If he wants to say I know how it went, he know how it went, too.
"I hate being humble at times," he continued. "Not just running my mouth and letting it go. Just let it be truth. I’m alright. Because come April 19, that’s when it matters. That’s training. It has nothing to do with the fight. Also, that was over four years ago. Look at me four years ago and look at me now. We’re talking about two different times. If he wants to bring that up like I’m the same athlete now I was back then, that’s only going to hurt him."
Hurting his opponents became a habit for Browne in 2013. You could make an argument that he is the sport’s hottest heavyweight after going 3-0 with three first-round knockouts in the last calendar year, including two over top 10 opposition.
The 31-year-old, who only took up MMA around the age of 26, is one of MMA’s most unlikely stars, with no combat sports background in his past. So he’s had an extremely sharp learning curve to get this far, this fast.
In Werdum, he’s taking on one of the most decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu masters in the sport, but one who has also flashed a rapidly improving striking game under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro. The winner is very likely to draw champion Cain Velasquez when he returns from shoulder rehabilitation, and Velasquez recently said that he believes Browne will emerge as the top contender.
To be fair about all of this, in the same interview where Werdum flashed back to past training exploits, he also complimented Browne’s streak, while on Wednesday, Browne stamped Werdum as "obviously one of the best in the world." So it won’t exactly be a grudge match when the two meet up in Orlando, but judging from Browne’s reaction, he was clearly miffed about Werdum telling tales out of school.
So after he moved on and smiled at what he’d said, he took it back. He doesn’t hate being humble, because he didn’t have to respond to Werdum with words. Instead, he could do it with a message delivered in person, one Werdum would have to receive.
"I’m very thankful for what I have but when people say things that just doesn’t make sense? There’s no reason for someone to be running their mouth like that," he said. "Those are the times that make it tough. We all have trials and tribulations and that shows who we are as a person. I choose to be a better person and not run my mouth. You’ve never seen me in front of the camera in the middle of the cage ask for anything. I always earn what I have. That’s one thing I pride myself on. I don’t ask for anything. I earn it. I don’t run my mouth, I let my performances do the talking for me."