by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Say “The Ultimate Fighter bad boy” to anyone who has watched the current season of the popular reality television show on Spike TV and there is no confusion. The name that immediately pops to mind is Junie Browning.
Having such a polarizing character surely makes the shows producers happy… for any good drama you have to have a hated villain. Browning easily filled that role on season eight of The Ultimate Fighter, which culminates with Saturday night’s live finale.
Not everyone is happy that he was able to use his antics to garner the vast majority of the spotlight on the show, however. Browning’s own coach on The Ultimate Fighter, Frank Mir, is chief among his detractors.
“If I had complete control, I would have kicked Junie off the first week after I seen his behavior and edited him out, so you wouldn’t have to see him at all,” recounted Mir on a recent teleconference. “I think he gives a bad name and face to everybody.”
Despite his antics, his bad behavior, his failure to make it to the finals, Browning draws so much interest from viewers that he has landed a spot on the televised portion of Saturday night’s fight card, another bone of contention for Mir.
“As far as him getting to be on the main card, it does reward his behavior. I think in the future it shows that people, they get on the show, as long as they act like a moron and idiot that they get to have time,” he commented.
Being on a reality show isn’t necessarily about promoting good behavior and athletic accomplishment, though. It’s an entertainment medium where ratings and advertising revenue is king. To that end, Browning was successful. Much as Chris Leben in the shows inaugural season, Browning became a reality TV star.
With the show over, though, he seems to have picked up on the fact that it’s now time to realize his potential and prove himself in athletics, not antics.
“I will win this fight, for sure. I do think it’s do or die,” he said. “Not necessarily with the UFC, but just with everyone in general. After talking a bunch of (expletive) and stuff and losing, it’s hard to talk (expletive) when you lose like that. So, I feel I’ve got to prove myself.”
Following the lead of several other fighters before him, Browning decided to be pro-active in trying to establish himself as a competitive fighter. He, at least temporarily, has decided to try his hand with the likes of UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, Wanderlei Silva, and others at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. He spent his training camp with the venerable fight team in preparations for Dave Kaplan and the most intense scrutiny of his young career.
“When I got off the show, I went back to the gym I was training at originally. It’s a good gym, but a lot of people there train at that gym more for a hobby. I really needed to step up my training partners and stuff, so I figured I’d come out here to Extreme Couture where some of the best lightweights are,” explained the 23-year-old.
According to the gym’s namesake, former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture, there have been no relapses from Browning’s time on TUF. “He’s been very quiet. There’s been no antics. He shows up everyday, slaps his gloves on. He’s been pretty diligent in the gym and we haven’t heard a peep out of him.”
“Realistically, that’s always the way I’ve trained,” said Browning, adding, “On the show when no one wants to train with you, of course I’m going to be angry. But out here you have no problem finding training partners. None. Everyone takes it so serious. Everyone is more than willing to roll or spar. I never have lack of partners out here at all.”
His move to Xtreme Couture – he’s not yet sure whether it will be permanent or not – has Browning more confident than ever as he readies himself to step into the Octagon with Kaplan. He’s confident that he will perform, and do or die, he’ll have nothing to fall back on.
“If I feel like I need to go to the ground, it will go to the ground. If I feel like I need to stand, it’s going to stand. I’ll have no excuses for this one. I’ll have no conditioning excuses at all. I’ll have no kind of excuse for this one,” he stated. “If I lose this one, I guess I’m not the fighter I thought I was.”
No matter the outcome, Browning is out to prove that his antics on the show are behind him; that “Reality Junie” will stay in “Reality TV Land.”
“I’m not the same fighter I was on the show,” he commanded. “I see people making bets on when I’m going to end up in jail. They’re going to see. I’m not going to end up nowhere except for in the UFC.”