Hawaiian heavyweight Travis Browne makes his return to action at UFC 181, his first octagon appearance since April at UFC on FOX 11. That bout, which saw him drop a number-one contender’s match to Fabricio Werdum in a five round decision, served as Werdum’s coming out party in his second UFC run, and set Browne back for the time being.

How far back? In a thin heavyweight division, Browne still represents a potential title threat, so let’s say “not very far at all, really.”

Prior to the Werdum loss Browne had won three straight, with all three fights coming against solid competition in Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, and Josh Barnett. That trio was enough to give him a crack at a title shot against Werdum, and despite the loss, he still sits at a healthy third spot in the UFC’s divisional rankings. Rankings, schmankings, however — as we saw with Mark Hunt’s shot at the interim belt against Werdum at UFC 180. Being in the right place at the right time and coming off a win could be all that is needed for a title crack.

All this adds up to Browne’s UFC 181 fight against Brendan Schaub being absolutely critical. A second straight loss will send him to the back of the line, but a win, especially a strong win, could place him right back into contention.

So what does Browne need to do to win?

Keep The Fight Standing

There’s no need to play to Brendan Schaub’s strengths. The revitalized heavyweight bounced back from a pair of knockout loses in 2011 and 2012 to win two straight in 2013, putting himself in a comfortable position until a close split-decision loss to Andrei Arlovski at UFC 174. His victories saw a renewed focus on the ground game from Schaub and while the Arlovski loss was a setback, as with Browne, it wasn’t a huge one. He’ll be motivated and looking to avoid taking big shots from Browne.

Browne does hold a purple belt in Jiu-jitsu (while Schaub owns a brown), but on the feet is where he makes his bread and butter.

Make It Ugly, Don’t Rush

A large part of Browne’s success has come by way of some nasty elbows up along the fence and those could be key to defeating Schaub. Browne needs to press, he needs to impose his will. There might be a temptation to try and pick up a highlight reel finish in the fight and that’s fine if the opportunity presents itself, but Browne needs to fight smart. A positive sign is that Browne stated during a Q&A with fans leading into the fight that he’s not looking for a quick finish.

Show Up with a Complete Game

Browne has said that he’s happy to go three rounds with Schaub, a fighter he says rubs him the wrong way. To do that, he’s going to need to show up with a complete game — on the feet, on the ground though he should try to avoid it, along the fence, etc. He should have a solid understanding of both his own strengths and Schaub’s, and execute accordingly. Browne should utilize his kicks, which are pretty solid for a heavyweight. We don’t expect to see any real cardio issues, as Browne went a full five rounds with Werdum. His takedown defense will be a key.

If the Hapa that shows up is one that fights to his full potential, then this fight is his for the taking.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.