With UFC 181 on the horizon, Brendan Schaub is slated to square off with what may be his toughest challenge to date when he steps into the cage to fight the Jackson-Winkeljohn product, Travis Browne.

Since 2011, Schaub has been a .500 fighter going 3-3 against some big names in the division. After knocking out legendary striker Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic in 2011, he found himself on the receiving end of two knock out losses which made many question what was next for him. Schaub shut down the doubters by getting back on the horse and easily defeating Lavar Johnson and Matt Mitrione.  In his last outing, he lost a contreversial split decision to Andrei Arlovski. Though there are some who believe Schaub was robbed out of getting his hand raised, there hasn’t been too much said about it because of the lackluster nature of the contest. Currently Schaub isn’t ranked by the UFC, but a win over Brown would quickly change that.

Browne has been developing tremendously in recent years. Training with Greg Jackson, he has been adding tools to his arsenal and at times he has reassembled a much larger version of his training partner Jon Jones. The unpredictable striking, and his ability to fight his way through diversity have been his primary asset in obtaining victories. In his last outing, he was defeated by the now interim heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum which put an end to his three fight winning streak. Though his record is better on paper than Schaub’s, he was very close to losing to Alistair Overeem in 2013 which would have put him at two victories and two losses in the past year. He pulled off the victory, however, but it could have been justifiably stopped by the referee at certain points in that fight. With that detail in mind, it changes the complexion of this fight between a non-ranked Schaub and third ranked Browne.

According to BetUS.com, Schaub is currently a +220 underdog, but with his back up against the wall in a do or die bout, that can launch him into rankings and it would be Browne’s downfall to overlook Schaub.

Here is how Brendan “Big Brown” Schaub can get his hand raised at UFC 181:

Establishing Distance

Browne is a monster of a man at 6’7″ and has a three inch reach advantage over Schaub.  He will have to establish distance and utilize foot work to make his way in and out of Browne’s striking zone. This can’t be a feeling out process, it has to be figured out before he gets in there with him. If he is comfortable with the distance and has the agility to move in and out the way he needs to, this will allow him to use the other aspects of his game. Without this foundation, it will be difficult if not impossible to do what he needs to get the win.

Takedowns

Schaub is a great wrestler, but Browne is far from a slouch when it comes to grappling. Browne defends 80 percent of his opponent’s takedown attempts, so it won’t be easy for Schaub, but he can’t give up. The best wrestlers aren’t always the most skilled in MMA, but the most conditioned and mentally strong. If Schaub gets shut down while shooting in, he can’t throw in the towel. He must continue to push the pace in order to keep Browne out of his comfort zone in the striking department.

Volume

Schaub doesn’t have the knock out power that Browne possesses, but he does have better numbers when it comes to striking overall. By the numbers, Schaub averages 3.05 significant strikes per minute and defends 59.73 percent of the significant strikes thrown his way. Travis Browne puts out 2.76  significant strikes per minute with a defense rate of  43.41 percent. Schaub will shine if he can put together the other aspects of his games and keep Browne guessing.

To sum it all up, Schaub is going to have to be very strategic in order to win this fight. Browne’s biggest weapon is the power that he has in his hands. If Schaub can keep him uncomfortable by threatening with takedowns and utilizing foot work and volume, he has the chance to take home a much needed decision.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.