A pivotal heavyweight matchup is part of a stacked UFC 168 event this coming weekend in Las Vegas. Travis Browne will be looking to set himself up as a potential title challenger in 2014 if he can secure the biggest victory of his career against surging veteran Josh Barnett.
This fight definitely has the potential to produce a brutal finish. Browne did just that in his last outing when he staged a thrilling rally after being badly hurt to register a stirring first round TKO of the dangerous Alistair Overeem at Fight Night 26. “Hapa” showed plenty of heart to survive Overeem’s blistering early attack, and his stock rose immenselywhen he turned the tide on “The Reem” to deliver an electrifying stoppage.
Browne has quite a diversified offensive attack that utilizes his 6-foot-7 frame to good use with tremendous kicks and knees. He is a powerful puncher who has 11 knockouts in 15 career wins. It will definitely be in his best interest to create the space that allies him to put his length to good use against Barnett.
Browne’s lone blemish was a first-round defeat at the hands of Antonio Silva. Browne sustained an early hamstring injury in that fight that clearly impacted his performance in a negative way.
For his part, “The Warmaster” is driven and on a mission to get back UFC gold. Barnett made an impactful return to the UFC after an 11-year absence by blasting out Frank Mir in the opening round of their clash at UFC 164. He won the UFC heavyweight belt back in 2002 when he defeated Randy Couture via second-round stoppage to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history. However, he was forced to drop the belt after a failed drug test.
Barnett fought in a number of promotions against the best in the world before finally making his return to the organization. He is driven to reclaim the title and has gone a stellar 10-1 in his last 11 fights. That lone loss came by decision to the unbeaten and highly-talented Daniel Cormier in the final of the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix.
Barnett’s a catch wrestling ace who has formidable power in his own right and tremendous submission skills. He has 28 finishes by way of knockout or submission in his 33 career victories. He’s at his best when he’s able to keep things at close quarters. He has an outstanding left hook and utilizes his tremendous strength in the clinch game.
Once he’s taken an opponent to the ground, Barnett can resort to either his top-shelf submission game or brutal ground-and-pound to close the show.
Two heavyweights with plenty at stake should produce a tremendously exciting fight this coming Saturday night. Browne’s been working on adding a few new wrinkles to his game and will have to deliver the performance of his career to derail Barnett’s title ambitions. The veteran has never looked better and will look to use Browne as a stepping stone to landing that highly-coveted title opportunity.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports