Travis Browne is one of the premier up-and-coming talents in the heavyweight division. He’s been on the sidelines for the past few months, awaiting his next test, but he returns on Saturday night to welcome former Strikeforce fighter Chad Griggs to the Octagon at UFC 145 in Atlanta.

At 12-0-1 overall, 3-0-1 in the UFC, and ranked No. 10 in the world, Browne is on the cusp of breaking into the upper tier of the heavyweight division. If he proves himself against Griggs, who is also trying to crack the upper crust, he’ll likely be facing top-five talent in his next bout.

But getting past Griggs is what is on tap, and he can’t overlook his streaking counterpart.

Browne has been waiting since last September for his next fight, but he believes that the UFC was just trying to put the right fights together, and that included folding the Strikeforce heavyweight division into the UFC’s.

“For Joe (Silva, UFC matchmaker) to make the right matchup at this point, it just took him a little bit to get that going,” Browne told content partner Bleacher Report. “Him knowing that Strikeforce is eventually going to be absorbed by the UFC—the heavyweight division—he wanted to make the right match-up.”

Browne hasn’t been standing pat, however, he’s been hard at work at Jckson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., training alongside UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who faces Rashad Evans in the UFC 145 main event.

And make no mistake about it, that training is what he believes is preparing him for Griggs, even if he isn’t so happy about trading the lush scenery of his home in Hawaii for the desert land surrounding him in Albuquerque.

“Out here it’s desert, it’s rattlesnakes, it’s cacti,” said Browne. “It’s nasty out there. Being here in this environment helps make you tough. It helps make you into the fighter you need to be to go three five-minute rounds, five five-minute rounds in the cage.

“There’s nothing nice about the cage. There’s nothing soft about it. It’s nasty. You get in there. You get dirty. You get beat up.

“And it’s the same kind of thing here in Albuquerque,” he continued. “To me there’s nothing pretty about it. That’s a big reason why I’m here. The environment helps mold you into the fighter you need to be.”

Travis Browne has been a nasty fighter his entire career, knocking out his opponent in nine of his 12 wins. So if adding Albuquerque to the mix has made him even more so, Griggs, and the rest of the heavyweights in the UFC had better keep an eye out for what Browne brings to the mix.

Check out the full UFC 145 Travis Browne video interview from our friend over at Bleacher Report.

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