UFC 168 Prediction: Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne
December 26, 2013
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When any fighter competes, what I want to see out of him, more than anything, is an efficient performance. I want to see a fighter land a lot of strikes without being hit very much. If he’s a grappler I want to see him land takedowns without being taken down. What I don’t want is to see the opponent beat the stuffing out of him.
That’s why I just can’t get behind Travis Browne as a UFC heavyweight title contender. In Browne’s last fight he was beaten to an inch of losing by TKO against Alistair Overeem. In fact, many referees would have stopped the fight when Browne was turtled against the fence and being clobbered. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but admiration for Browne’s ability to get back up and later knock out an exhausted Overeem, but from my perspective that fight is not an indicator of future success.
In that fight Overeem landed 41 significant strikes in four minutes while Browne landed 14. It’s not just that fight either. Browne lost by first-round TKO after being out-struck by Antonio Silva and was easily out-pointed by Cheick Kongo, only able to salvage a draw because of a point deduction due to Kongo’s infamous groin strikes. Browne has done well as a striker in his other fights but they’ve generally been against poor strikers like Gabriel Gonzaga and lower-level opponents like Chad Griggs.
So while Browne is clearly a better natural athlete than the well-traveled Josh Barnett, I would be very hesitant before calling him the better striker, especially on defense. For his UFC career as a whole Browne has landed 138 significant strikes but absorbed 153. He’s also been knocked down three times, although two of those were at the knees of the powerful Overeem. By contrast Barnett has only been knocked down twice throughout his entire MMA career and has easily landed more strikes than he’s absorbed (563-383).
It’s a good thing for Barnett that he’s likely the better defensive striker because it’s questionable whether or not he’ll be able to put Browne on his back. Barnett is a grappler first and will almost certainly look to take Browne down at some point – but Browne has yet to be taken down in a UFC fight. Browne’s opponents have only attempted seven takedowns in eight fights but 7-for-7 is nothing to sneeze at. Then again Browne has yet to face an opponent who could be described as a wrestler, unless you consider “Bigfoot” or Gonzaga to be wrestlers. It will be interesting to see if Browne can stay upright against the takedown game of Barnett.
I understand that Browne is a dangerous opponent with a history of winning early in the first round. I also understand that Barnett has a lot of miles on his fight odometer. However when I break things down I believe Browne needs to have the advantage in a pure striking match against Barnett to be favored in this fight. Due to Browne’s somewhat porous defense and Barnett’s sturdy chin the data indicates that it’s Barnett who has the edge there.
Pick: Josh Barnett by submission