The UFC 168 card has added a Heavyweight bout between Josh Barnett and Travis Browne to their main card scheduled for December 28th in Las Vegas. The card is headlined by Anderson Silva versus Chris Weidman II and Ronda Rousey vs Meisha Tate II, but the addition of Barnett adds another title contender to the already stacked card. As for Browne, who is fast rising himself, this is a big step up in competition, as Barnett is knocking on the door of a title shot in the Heavyweight division.
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Look for Barnett to open a favorite in this fight. Some bettors may find value in Browne as the underdog, however, Browne is facing the toughest competition of his career. Browne owns quality wins over Stafan Struve and Alistair Overeem, but neither is as complete a fighter as Barnett.
Especially in the case of Overeem, there was the sense that Browne was facing a guy who was sliding down the ladder. Barnett is focused on his UFC return, and he looked solid in taking out Frank Mir.
For Browne, there are similarities to the Mark Hunt-Junior Dos Santos bout earlier this year. Like Browne, Hunt was a rising heavyweight who had a series of solid wins and was paired with a top heavyweight. Hunt’s limitations were exposed and he was beat at his own game by a fighter with superior skill. That could very well be the case with Barnett and Browne.
Browne is going to have to win the fight standing, and Barnett is a very solid and unorthodox striker who has not been knocked since the stone age. Barnett could use an ultra aggressive attack to take Browne out standing, similar to the success Overeem had against Brown early, with the difference that Barnett will finish Browne if he gets the chance.
Then there is the chance that Barnett comes in and gets Browne down early. If he does, he should get the submission, he has submitted a lot of ground fighters better than Browne, and Barnett may look to end the fight without a lot of time spent on the feet.
Either way, this amounts to only a puncher’s chance for Browne, who probably would have been better matched against another up and comer like Stipe Miocic.