Travis Browne sports 11 finishes among his 13 victories. | Jed Jacobsohn/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Travis Browne, an unbeaten big man with plenty of potential, is looking for a little more recognition. Antonio Silva, with consecutive blowout losses to Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez on his ledger, wants a measure of redemption. Put both men into the Octagon together and you get a pair of hungry heavyweights going for broke on Friday in the UFC on FX 5 main event.
While neither Browne nor Silva is ready to be included in title discussions, the man that emerges victorious from the Target Center in Minneapolis, will have raised his stock considerably in a rapidly improving division. In addition to the conflict between Browne and Silva, UFC on FX 5 also features the displaced UFC 151 co-feature pitting Jake Ellenberger against Jay Hieron, as well as a potential flyweight title eliminator between John Dodson and Jussier da Silva.
Here is a closer look at the card, with analysis and picks:
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Travis Browne (13-0-1, 4-0-1 UFC) vs. Antonio Silva (16-4, 0-1 UFC)
The Matchup: As an undefeated fighter with considerable potential in a division still hungry for talent, Browne has not yet generated the buzz it seems like he should. Perhaps it is because he has demonstrated a tendency to follow the spectacular with the pedestrian -- not unusual for a mixed martial artist who is still relatively new to the sport.
“Hapa” is probably best known for his Superman-punch knockout of Stefan Struve at UFC 130 -- a victory that holds up to this day because the towering Dutchman remains a solid contender at heavyweight. The execution of such a move flashed a pair of tantalizing attributes: athleticism and power.
The Hawaiian is still learning the game, however, as a draw against Cheick Kongo taught him that he will not be able to bully more talented foes using size and strength alone; a tepid outing versus Rob Broughton in the high altitude of Denver demonstrated the need for better conditioning. Most recently, he quickly took care of business against Chad Griggs, submitting the former Strikeforce talent in the opening frame at UFC 145. Browne’s ability to piece everything together will determine how quickly he ascends the heavyweight ranks.
For Silva, it must feel as though his career-defining victory over Fedor Emelianenko happened decades ago. A subsequent Strikeforce heavyweight tournament bout against Daniel Cormier resulted in a knockout loss, and Silva was battered into a bloody mess by Cain Velasquez in his Octagon debut in May. While losses to the likes of Cormier and Velasquez are nothing to be ashamed of, it is clear that “Bigfoot” cannot rely on sheer size alone against upper-echelon talents. Browne does not have the wrestling credentials or resume of a Velasquez or Cormier, but he certainly possesses the skillset to make the Brazilian look like a plodding big man again.
A former junior college basketball player, Browne has surprising agility and quickness for a man carrying a 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame. His standup remains a work in progress, but his athleticism allows him to carry out techniques like the punch that felled Struve or the flying knee that dazed Griggs early in their encounter.
Silva, meanwhile, is at his best when he can fight big. The former EliteXC heavyweight king likes to wear down his opponents by suffocating them from top position. The thought of a series of massive Silva hammerfists landing in succession is an unpleasant prospect for virtually anyone. Additionally, “Bigfoot” is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who is adept at working for submissions as he pressures his opponent with strikes from above.
Getting the fight where he wants it is another matter entirely. Browne figures to have a distinct speed edge here, and he can slow the Silva’s advances with a steady diet of low kicks. It is worth noting that Browne began his combat sports career as a grappler, so he will not be afraid to go to the mat with “Bigfoot,” especially considering the Brazilian’s vulnerability to quick level changes.
The Pick: Silva once outstruck Andrei Arlovski for the majority of three rounds, but attempting to do that consistently is not a recipe for success for the Strikeforce veteran. Silva is better off pressuring and attempting to grind Browne against the fence. Browne must be wary of letting his opponent get a hold of him, because one takedown could mean spending an entire frame on his back. It would be unwise to completely dismiss Silva on the basis of his last two performances, but he will not be able to keep up with Browne for a full 25 minutes. The Hawaiian will battle through a couple tough spots, find his rhythm and stop Silva via technical knockout in round three.
Next Fight » Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron