With one front kick, Travis Browne went from popular dark-horse contender to legitimate challenger. Although Browne is a name fresh on every fan’s tongue at the moment, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

As with every story, the best place to begin the conversation is at the beginning. Browne made his professional MMA debut back in 2009. He amassed a 9-0 record competing in the regional leagues, even appearing in Bellator for one fight. Included in those early wins were eight-second and nine-second knockouts.

Browne made his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale, finishing James McSweeney via TKO in the first round. With that victory, Browne became an instant favorite with the fans. He was a mountain of a man at 6-foot 7, but he moved like a lightweight. Dropping McSweeney, who wasn’t the most popular fighter, certainly helped his image as well. He drew a tough draw (no pun intended) with Cheick Kongo in his next fight, and it was clear Browne wasn’t ready for upper-level competition.

Since that fight, however, Browne has been on a tear in the heavyweight division, winning all but one of his fights. The only loss came at the hands of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva last October. Even that loss comes with an asterisk, as it can be attributed to a freak injury rather than simply being beaten in the cage. I’m not one for linking injury excuses as a reason for losing in the Octagon, but the kind of injury Browne had completely immobilized him.

Browne made the highlight reels for his victories over Stefan Struve and Chad Griggs. He did things nobody had seen a heavyweight do before and looked to be the real deal. All he needed was a victory over a big name. Enter “The Reem.”

Alistair Overeem rushed in and utilized his brutal knees to batter Browne’s body. At one point, Browne dropped to the canvas and turtled up. Overeem launched a flurry that very well could have caused a referee stoppage. Instead, Browne weathered the storm and got back to his feet. Browne attempted to use his long legs to keep Overeem at bay. Only, instead of playing defense, Browne’s kicks put him on the offensive after he landed a few. After landing a kick flush to Overeem’s jaw, Browne’s eyes lit up as he jumped on “The Reem” and finished his opponent.

Now, with a victory over a big name, Browne is set up to be “in the mix.” A 15-1-1 record looks good on paper, and even better when you consider the type of finisher Browne is. Not only can Browne end the fight in an instant, but he’s also an incredible athlete. His speed and agility is unparalleled for a heavyweight.

Fans will point out that Browne got his keister kicked early and often in the Overeem bout, and that’s very true. Still, the mark of a good fighter is the ability to battle through adversity and respond when put in a terrible position. There aren’t too many positions that are worse than having a 255-pound man landing a series of punches to your head with no chance to respond.

With his natural ability, combined with Greg Jackson’s coaching, expect to see Browne become a regular in the heavyweight contender mix. He doesn’t have a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt or world-class striking techniques, but he’s a great athlete with a world-class camp that can give him the necessary tools to become a future champion.

Photo: Travis Browne (L) delivers a kick (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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.