Travis Browne entered the UFC with rather humble beginnings, facing James McSweeney on The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale back in June of 2011. It was a low-key performance that earned Browne the gratitude of many UFC fans for taking out a less than popular fighter.

There was nothing low-key about Browne’s second opponent in the Octagon, Cheick Kongo. The Frenchman has been a staple in the heavyweight division and, though he can’t seem to rise out of gatekeeper status, still possesses some dangerous skills.

Browne followed up the grinding fight with Kongo against another perennial gatekeeper, Stefan Struve, at UFC 130. In one of the most spectacular finishes I’ve ever witnessed, the 6-foot-7 Browne landed a superman punch on the nearly 7-foot Struve.

It was a signature win for Browne that cemented his place as one of the best up and coming stars in the division. Yet, Browne was unable to sustain the momentum gained from the Struve win by grinding out a decision victory over Rob Broughton at UFC 136. There were a lot of excuses for both men’s performances pertaining to the high altitude, but the fact remains that it was an ugly win for Browne.

Regardless of how ugly it may have been, it was a win, and it did show the evolving game of Browne. It was a lesson that not every fight is going to end in spectacular fashion and that on some nights, Browne will need more than his athleticism to overcome adversity.

However, Browne’s athleticism is exactly what won him his bout with Chad Griggs at UFC 145. A flying knee was followed up by an arm-triangle choke and caused the tapout. The win showed that Browne possesses a competent ground game to match his impressive striking skills.

Now, Browne will face perhaps his biggest test to date when he faces Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. It’s kind of an odd pairing given the impressive streak Browne has been on and the emphatic loss sustained by Silva at UFC 146. Nevertheless, Silva will be a tough task for Browne to overcome and will perhaps validate his status as a true heavyweight contender.

But is Browne ready for an UFC title shot should he get past Silva?

Although Browne has looked great thus far, he’s simply not ready for the top-level of heavyweights right now. He’s a talented fighter who should someday challenge and possibly wear the UFC belt, but that time isn’t now.

Let’s start by examining his resume, assuming for the sake of this article that he gets past Silva. For one, Silva is riding a two-fight losing streak coming into the fight with his loss to Cain Velasquez being both bloody and ugly. Add the fact that Silva hasn’t defeated a relevant heavyweight since Andrei Arlovski in 2010, and you can see that a win over “Bigfoot” shouldn’t catapult anyone to the head of the line for UFC title shots.

Taking a look at Browne’s resume, one will notice he’s defeated a few fighters with big names that weren’t ranked highly at the time. His win over Struve looks better now following Struve’s destruction of Stipe Miocic, but that gets offset by the two performances against lower-tier heavyweights in Kongo and Broughton. And although the Griggs victory was an amazing display of athleticism by Browne, it’s still a victory over a journeyman heavyweight who is dropping down to light heavyweight.

But this isn’t college football’s BCS, where judging who has the best win or loss is a criteria, and Dana White has been known to overrate some guys in the past following impressive performances. I personally wouldn’t put Browne into the title mix just yet, especially given how many title challengers there are at the moment.

If Browne can get past Silva, I wouldn’t mind see him facing a top-five opponent like Fabricio Werdum or Daniel Cormier. A fight against either man would be a true barometer of how Browne’s game will fare against an elite-level heavyweight and could truly be considered a No. 1 contender type of bout.

Photo: Travis Browne (James Law/Heavy)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.