USA TODAY: Former foe up first, but Travis Browns sees UFC title shot in reach


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travis-browne-15.jpg(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

At 6-7, UFC heavyweight Travis Browne is a big man. But when listening to him talk about this weekend’s “UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2? headliner, you realize just how big.

UFC 160 takes place Saturday at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena (10 p.m. ET, pay-per-view). In the night’s main event, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) challenges for the UFC heavyweight title against reigning champion Cain Velasquez (11-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC).

“Honestly, I can say I’m happy for Bigfoot,” Browne told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Right now, I’m back on my path. My last fight, I got back on the path I need to be in order to get those kind of opportunities.”

Browne (14-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC), undefeated until a TKO loss to Silva in October 2012, was considered one of the division’s up-and-comers, on a fast track to a title shot. But the defeat derailed his title ambitions, and Silva would go on to defeat Alistair Overeem to earn his crack at the belt.

But to hear Browne tell it, he’s not the least bit jealous of his former foe’s success.

“Since I fought Bigfoot, I’ve actually become a big fan of his, the way he carries himself and the way he handles himself,” Browne said. “You have to respect the guy, with what he’s done in the sport. With that said, I’d still love to compete against him and hopefully one day avenge that loss, if that’s in the cards. But he’s turned into a fan favorite. He’s really proved a lot of people wrong.”

Despite Silva’s impressive victories, he’s still considered a heavy underdog in his bout against Velasquez, especially since he was defeated soundly when the pair met for the first time a year ago. But that fight served as Silva’s UFC debut, and Browne says Silva will have a different game plan this time.

“He kind of knows a little bit more about what to expect from Cain,” Browne said. “It’s going to be a good fight.”

After the loss to Silva, Browne rebounded with a knockout victory against Gabriel Gonzaga. He’s booked to fight Overeem on Aug.17 at an event that marks the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network.

In the UFC’s increasingly deep heavyweight division, it’s hard to say exactly what a victory would gain for Browne. After all, his is one of only five bouts in the next three months that feature fighters in the top 10 of the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA heavyweight rankings.

But Browne is OK with where he stands. Next time he hopes to be the one challenging for the belt.

“After the loss to Bigfoot, we go back home, but now we’re at the top again,” Browne said. “We’re just about six months behind, that’s all.”

For the latest on UFC 160 and UFC on FOX Sports 1 1, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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