by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Junie Browning has been much of the focus of this season’s The Ultimate Fighter. Browning defeated Roli Delgado in his first fight in the house on episode 6, but angered Team Nogueira coach and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as well as UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the process.
After a lot of smack talk and promises to finish the fight in the first round, Browning proved unable to finish Delgado and needed three rounds to garner a split decision win. The first round Delgado’s height and reach advantage kept Browning at bay with Browning finding his timing and range in the final minute. “The first round he stayed real active,” stated Browning. “He didn’t land anything that remotely rang my bell, but he was active.”
At one point in the opening stanza, Browning put his hands down and let Delgado punch him, much like Chris Leben did in the second and third rounds of his UFC 89 match up with Michael Bisping. Browning explained, “I was looking for something to draw him in.”
The second round was all Junie. He landed a series of devastating body shots, was the aggressor and dropped Delgado with a right hand. It went to a third and final round with Browning clearly in control of the bout. “I knew when the fight was over it was probably going to a third round,” commented the Kentuckian.
In the final five minutes, Browning set the pace, landed a few nice right hands and pulled out the decision. Asked if he was worried when the judges were left to decide the winner, Browning replied, “I knew that it was going to go to me. The second round was pretty much a 10-8 round. I pretty much dominated it. I knew that as long as I was more active in the third round I was going to win.”
“He was good on the ground, so I didn’t really want to go to the ground,” continued Browning. “He’s a real tall guy. He had a little better chin than I thought. It was hard to finish him, but I felt like I was in control pretty much the entire fight.”
Spike dedicated a good portion of the episode chronicling Browning’s struggles to make weight. “It was more of the fact that the time I had to cut, because I went in the morning to cut some of the weight. I cut like ten pounds in the morning. I thought they were going to let me stay there all the way up until weigh-ins, so I had planned to where I was going to cut it all that morning,” explained the lightweight competitor.
“After I cut for like two hours they told me I was going to have to go back to the house. I had to ride back in the van all the way to the house and only had about thirty minutes to cut some more,” he added. “Then I had to ride back all the way to the gym. It was like two hours they cut out of my time to cut, so for weigh-ins I was two pounds over…. It was trouble, but it wasn’t something I haven’t done before.””
During the announcement of the bout, Browning threw a black belt on the ground and spit on it, something that Nogueira and Silva took as disrespectful to all black belts. “I was just trying to mess with him (Delgado) a little bit, trying to get in his head,” Browning told MMAWeekly.com.
“I think they took it as disrespect,” said Browning. According to Ryan Bader and Eliot Marshall, Anderson Silva had to go outside to cool off a little. Following the fight, Browning took it upon himself to make amends and apologize.
“I went up to Nogueira and apologized about the whole black belt thing. Nogueira, I don’t think he understood exactly what the black belt was representing,” stated Browning. “It wasn’t trying to disrespect all black belts. And I think they took it that way. So, I went over to them and explained that it was just a joke toward Delgado.”
In the end, Delgado earned Browning’s respect and Browning was disappointed with his performance. He seemed humble after his win, but advised viewers to “Keep watching.”