MINNEAPOLIS -- A person can extrapolate a lot from a weigh-in, almost all of it pure guesswork. However, one thing is certain of Travis Browne leading up to his heavyweight main event fight against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva this weekend at UFC on FX 5.
He’s coming in light.
The undefeated Browne -- whom oddsmakers see as a bit more than a 2-to-1 favorite over Silva -- tipped the scales at 246 pounds Thursday during the official prefight weigh-in at Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. It’s the lightest he’s ever been during his two-year UFC career.
By contrast, “Bigfoot” came in just slightly heavier than his normally rock-solid 264 pounds, hitting the upper limit of the UFC heavyweight division at 266. Afterward the two engaged in an intense, nose-to-nose staredown that ended only when the hulking former EliteXC champion’s coaches succeeded in pulling him behind the curtain at the side of the stage.
For a guy who was 250 pounds during his last fight against Chad Griggs at UFC 145 and 255 versus Rob Broughton before that at UFC 135, Browne’s lean look is noteworthy, if not stunning. While it might be a mistake to try to deduce a fighter’s strategy simply from watching him climb up on a scale in his underpants, the weight loss also isn’t an accident. Coming in so much lighter likely affirms the popular notion that he’ll try to out-quick and out-maneuver Silva rather than match muscle with him.
Or at least, that has seemed to be Browne’s modus operandi in the past.
Previous to this, his lowest mark had been the 247 pounds he weighed against the much taller Stefan Struve at UFC 130. During that bout, he looked particularly nimble on his feet while he bounced, circled and peppered Struve with leg kicks as a prelude to a highlight reel, Superman punch KO during the final minute of the first round. In fairness, he also looked a little sloppy at times and survived a fleeting choke attempt from Struve during the fight’s lone ground exchange.
Against “Bigfoot,” conventional wisdom says Browne will want to stay off the mat entirely. It’s no good to have a guy nicknamed after Sasquatch lying on top of you, as Fedor Emelianenko found out the hard way in February 2011.
To that end, Silva could shape up as an interesting physical test for the 6-foot-7-inch Hawaiian fighter, who hasn’t faced off against a ton of behemoths en route to a 4-0-1 mark in the Octagon. Browne’s UFC record so far includes once-and-future light heavyweights Griggs and James McSweeney as well as the sleek, 230-pound Cheick Kongo and the doughy, 6-2 Broughton, who carried a few too many of his 261 pounds around his midsection when they met. Prior to Friday, the biggest heavyweight Brown has fought in the Octagon has been Struve, who is “Skyscraper” tall but more lanky than anything else.
Though he comes in off back-to-back losses, Silva will be an entirely different animal. His best chance here will be to use his size and strength to stifle Browne’s mobility against the fence and/or eventually bring him to the mat. That’s what he did with such success in his win over Emelianenko in the opening round of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix last year. Against the smaller, quicker Daniel Cormier six months later, Silva was forced to fight on the feet and, despite weight, power and reach advantages, paid for it in the form of a first-round KO defeat.
In any case, we probably won’t have to wait long to find out what either guy has in mind. In 34 combined fights, Browne and Silva have let their bouts go to the judges only five times. For his part, Browne has five wins that lasted less than a minute and nine of his 14 career fights have ended in the first round.