LAS VEGAS – Travis Browne is back in the win column after a hamstring injury contributed to his first career loss, but the heavyweight quickly found himself answering questions more about the method of his recent victory than about what it does for his contender status.
In a main-card bout at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on Saturday, Browne (14-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) fought off a takedown and then knocked out veteran Gabriel Gonzaga (14-7 MMA, 9-6 UFC), who clung to his hips, with a series of elbow strikes.
At least the first two blows landed cleanly to the side of the head, but anywhere from one to three appeared to clip the dazed fighter illegally to the back of the head.
After the fight, which aired on FX from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Browne said there was no ill intent.
“I remember hitting him with one, and the referee was right there,” Browne told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I could kind of see him standing off to the side, and he didn’t say anything. I hit him with two more, and by that time he was done.
“I just kind of stopped. I didn’t feel him fighting anymore. I try to be respectful in the cage, and if I know somebody can’t defend themselves, I’m not going to take advantage of that.”
The victory, which came just 71 seconds into the fight, followed Browne’s early-fight attempt at a wheelhouse kick. Gonzaga immediately pounced to try to get the takedown, but Browne said there was a reason behind the kick. After tearing his hamstring in an October loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Browne sat out of competition for half a year while recovering. So he wanted to show the heavyweight division he’s back at full health.
“I kind of wanted to go out there and show everybody my hamstring was just fine,” he said. “He was quick on that shot, and he got in as I was throwing my kick. It was part of my game plan.
“I saw when (Ben) Rothwell went southpaw with him, he was really confused, and a lot of stuff opened up on Gabriel Gonzaga when a righty went southpaw. I think that’s one of the reasons why he shot so early and just committed everything to it is because you confuse people when you start switching stances and you have different attacks from different angles.”
Prior to the Silva loss, which followed Browne’s 13-0-1 start to his career, “Hapa” was rising quickly in the heavyweight division. He had earned stoppage wins over the likes of Stefan Struve and Chad Griggs, and with the victory over Gonzaga, he now owns 10 knockouts in 14 career wins.
So what’s next?
“I think I’m starting to get some of the recognition that I may not have gotten before, and I think it’s due,” he said. “I’ve put in some of my time. What is this, like my sixth or seventh fight in the UFC? I’m coming off of one loss in my career.
“I think it’s time for me to start moving up and get those shots like Silva and some of the guys in the top 10. If that doesn’t put me in the top 10, I’m sure I’ll be there shortly.”
For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.