There will be no ‘flipping burgers’ anytime soon for Junie Browning, although the Lexington, Kentucky native briefly entertained the idea after losing in the semifinals of the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. However, now under the guidance of fighter/agent Jake Hattan of Denaro Sports Marketing and trainer Shawn Tompkins, the show’s most controversial and infamous cast member is eager to put his prolific days from the house behind him and prove to the world that he is dead serious about his fighting career.
I must admit, I was somewhat thrown off when I reached Browning’s voicemail message just prior to our conversation which let me know that he was most likely to busy to answer his phone because he was doing something absolutely terrible with my mother and that he could care less about what I was calling him about. I left my voice message and waited, not knowing what to expect from the one known as “The Lunatik”. Just thirty seconds later, Junie was calling me back, and much to the contrast of what I had encountered on his voicemail, Browning was sincerely apologetic for not being near his phone the moment that I had called.
The contrast of what I had encountered is probably very similar to those that have seen his numerous debacles during The Ultimate Fighter and then had the pleasure of meeting him in person. Unlike the over the top wildman personality depicted by Junie during the taping of television show, Browning is one of the most down to earth, personable guys you will ever talk to and keeps things surprisingly low key around his stomping grounds of Las Vegas.
Browning will forever be one of those guys that you either love, hate, or love to hate. As the saying goes, good press, bad press, it’s all press. The spotlight is unlikely to stop shining on the outspoken twenty three year old anytime soon.
The next stop in Browning’s quest to show the world that he is in the UFC to stay pits him against the rangy and always dangerous Cole Miller. The 6′ 1″ lightweight’s last outing saw Miller finish off jiu-jitsu black belt, Jorge Gurgel, by triangle choke and his experience in the octagon presents all sorts of problems for an up and coming fighter.
Browning confirmed in an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com that he hopes that Miller is as tough everyone says he is. He wants to have the opportunity to convince his doubters he is one of the lightweight divisions brightest rising stars.
Cory Brady of FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you feel you match up with Cole Miller?
Junie Browning: I think we match up really good actually. I think that this is a really good match up for me. The thing that kills me the most is really good wrestlers. I feel like Cole won’t be able to take the fight to the ground and I’ll have the ability to dictate where the fight goes.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So you’re not going to be that worried about keeping the fight standing necessarily?
Junie Browning: Not really. I think his submission win over Jorge Jurgel was more just a mistake on Gurgel’s part. I don’t think it had anything to do with Cole Miller having slick jiu-jitsu. It wasn’t really like he was really technical in setting him up with it, it was more than Gurgel slipped and just got caught. Anyone else he’s fought, he hasn’t really shown me anything spectacular on the ground.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Now you’ve already said that you think your wrestling is going to be one of your advantages over Miller. What other advantages do you feel you may have going into this one?
Junie Browning: I think my conditioning and my toughness are going to be big advantages for me. I’m not going to say that my striking is so much better than his because his reach is definitely going to be a factor. I feel like my conditioning is so good right now that I could just brawl with him for all three rounds.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What are some of the most noticeable improvements that you have seen in your game since coming to Xtreme Couture?
Junie Browning: Everything, to be honest. I’d say that what I have been working on more than anything is my wrestling, my conditioning and just trying to be more technical with my stand up. My stand up wasn’t as bad as I made it look on the show, the way I kept dropping my hands and getting sloppy, that isn’t how I normally fight. I think I was trying to be cocky for the show, dropping my hands and letting people hit me, stuff like that. I realize that this is and the skill level is going to be a lot higher than what was typically on the show so I’m not going to be screwing around and dropping my hands like I was.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I heard that you never really had a formal striking coach before the filming of the show. Is that true?
Junie Browning: Well I had a boxing coach back home, but it was really traditional type boxing. A lot of the boxing stuff doesn’t really transition over to MMA very well by itself. What I learned back home was just straight boxing. In MMA I feel like you have to use your reach a lot more and it’s a lot harder to get off on the inside. Since I’ve been training with Shawn Tompkins and Xtreme Couture, my kicks and everything have gotten a lot better.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So what would be the absolute perfect ending to this bout for you?
Junie Browning: I know this is kind of crazy to say because most people want to hurry up and get the fight finished but I either want to get knockout of the night, submission of the night or fight of the night. Preferably fight of the night so people can enjoy it and Cole will get some money out of it too. I heard that Cole is a really cool guy so I don’t want for it to be one of those super hyped up fights. If he’s really that good, it will be a good fight, he’ll get some money and I’ll get some money, that would be cool.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is it important to you that you’re known as the kind of fighter that finishes his fights?
Junie Browning: Oh, of course. I’m in there to finish it. I mean, worse case scenario, I want fight of the night. I’d love to go in there and knock him out in thirty seconds, but winning is the most important thing to me. Especially at this point because I feel like I have a lot more to prove than a lot of the other fighters. I’m going to try to take him out as soon as possible.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How are you liking living in Vegas?
Junie Browning: It’s awesome. I mean it’s a dream training scenario for me. My problem before has always been a lack of training partners and not getting the training that could take me to the level that I want to be, but out here you can go from gym to gym. I bounce around between two or three gyms every day out here.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: The gym scene is definitely a lot more active in Vegas but so is the night life. Are you able to avoid going out partying and all of that type of stuff?
Junie Browning: Yeah, I don’t ever really go out, especially when I have a fight coming up. I’m not going to lie, after this fight I’ll probably take a couple weeks off to relax and I’ll probably wake up in a gutter every day. I like to enjoy myself and I believe that one of the rewards of having to train hard all the time is being able to do that kind of stuff. I’m not the same person that I was on the show anymore. I have a fight coming up. I don’t go out and it’s not even hard for me. It’s not even something that I have to talk myself out of. I’m really focused on this fight right now.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So do you believe in the whole no sex before a fight thing?
Junie Browning: Oh, hell no. That’s an old boxing myth. I have sex three or four times a day all the way up to the fight. It helps me train better.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Did you give your brother Robbie any advice before he entered the Ultimate Fighter house?
Junie Browning: I told him to be himself and have an outgoing personality, big time. I told him not to be the guy that nobody remembers next season. Just for him to go in there and train hard and do his thing. I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed by that.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Would you say your brother is a lot like you in many ways?
Junie Browning: Oh yeah. He’s at the same point in his fighting career that I was right before the show. Just working all the time and trying to stay motivated to train. It’s not just us though, everybody in Kentucky where I’m from is wild like this. It’s a Kentucky thing.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I have noticed that a bunch of the top ten lightweight rankings I’m seeing currently have Shinya Aoki as the top lightweight in the world. What are your thoughts on Aoki?
Junie Browning: I watch a lot of fights and people have their opinions. My opinion on Aoki is that I don’t believe that he could hang with most of the UFC lightweights today. I believe that the rules in Dream are so different with no elbows. He likes to play a lot of spider guard off of his back and rubber guard, stuff like that, and it’s hard to ground and pound someone in the guard that is latched onto you like that with no elbows. It allows for Aoki to use a lot more wrist control and stuff like that. In the UFC, if he tried to do a lot of that wrist control and stuff that he does off of his back, people would just come over the top with elbows to get the wrist release from him. Plus, I don’t believe that he could take down or pull guard on half of the guys in the UFC. I think a lot of the guys in the UFC would stuff his takedowns and just beat him up standing. Half of the guys in the UFC would just murder him standing. Plus, he could get stacked against the cage and that would hurt him, big time. The UFC is filled with a lot of great wrestlers and I think that would kill him. It’s hard to say, we’ll see if Aoki is ever brave enough to ever come over to the UFC, we’ll see.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: If you were alone in the woods and got into a fight with a grizzly bear that was identical to you in height, but heavier because it’s a bear, who walks away?
Junie Browning: I’ll poke him in his [expletive] eyeballs. I’d bite his [expletive] nose. I was watching Manswers or some show like that the other night and they were talking about what you should do if you’re attacked by a grizzly bear and they said to either bite him on the nose or poke him in his eyes. I doubt I would be walking away from that one but I guarantee you that he’ll know that he was in a fight before he rips my head off.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Would you stand and trade with the bear, take the action to the canvas or just go with the flow?
Junie Browning: I would pull a Machida and just stick and move. I would just avoid the fight completely, as much as possible. Lyoto’s going to hate me after that comment.(laughing)
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Alright man, Fight Club question, if you could fight anyone on earth, whether living or dead, who would it be?
Junie Browning: I’d have to say Floyd Mayweather. I would love to ground and pound him. I love him as a boxer but I would just really love to fight him. I’m not dumb, I wouldn’t even attempt to stand with him. I just want to show him how much more difficult it is to avoid a takedown than what he thinks.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What is your absolute favorite hobby outside of beating the crap out of people?
Junie Browning: Hanging out with my girlfriend, that’s just about it. Have sex a lot. Especially when you have a fight coming up, you train so much, just have sex and train. Maybe try to play some video games or watch a movie in between, something like that.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Junie Browning: I want to thank TapouT and Denaro Sports Marketing.