Travis Browne has been a destructive force within the UFC heavyweight ranks and another impressive performance at UFC on FOX 11 will punch his ticket to a title shot. “Hapa” is set to square off against Brazilian veteran Fabricio Werdum in Orlando this weekend, with the winner earning a showdown later this year in Mexico against champion Cain Velasquez.
Browne has reeled off three straight first-round stoppages since his only career loss against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. The towering Hawaiian suffered a hamstring injury early in that fight and was stopped in the first round. Since that setback Browne has destroyed Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem and most recently Josh Barnett. All three performances earned him Knockout of the Night bonuses.
The gutsy effort against Overeem at Fight Night 26 was arguably the most impressive of Browne’s career as he survived a brutal early onslaught before rallying in dramatic fashion. Browne has showcased a wide offensive arsenal that includes dangerous punches, brutal standing elbows and powerful kicks to secure 14 finishes in his 16 career victories.
Werdum has been around the block during his career and has faced the best heavyweight competition that the sport has had to offer. He’s coming off an impressive second round submission victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The 36-year-old Brazilian has showcased an improved stand-up game in his second Octagon stint in registering three straight victories. However, it’s his tremendous submission game that has always been the jiu-jitsu ace’s calling card. Werdum’s most well-known career victory was a first-round armbar submission win against the legendary Fedor Emelianenko in a 2010 fight in Strikeforce.
It’s been quite a stretch of inactivity for Werdum as he hasn’t fought since last June because he’d been waiting on a title opportunity against Velasquez. Those plans changed when the champion sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery. “Vai Cavalo” is now forced to pass one more dangerous hurdle to earn his reward.
The stakes are quite clear for what has the makings of a potentially explosive battle. Browne is riding some serious momentum thanks to a devastating run and possesses tremendous athleticism. However, Werdum has the veteran savvy and the submission skills to end a fight in sudden fashion as well. The winner will emerge as a worthy title challenger for the dominant Velasquez.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports