Travis Browne makes title statement

Originally Published: December 28, 2013
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS – In a heavyweight fight that flew well under the radar at UFC 168, Travis Browne still managed to make a statement -- a big one.

Browne (16-1-1) took a big step toward title contention with a first-round knockout over Josh Barnett on Saturday. Ranked the No. 6 heavyweight in the world by ESPN.com, Browne will likely face top contender Fabricio Werdum next.

[+] EnlargeJosh Barnett vs. Travis Browne
Ed Mulholland for ESPNTravis Browne, left, took another step toward a shot at the heavyweight title by striking his way past Josh Barnett.

"Looks like me and Fabricio Werdum have a date," Browne said.

It was clear Barnett (33-7) wanted to close distance and put Browne in the clinch early. He walked through early combinations and tried to tie things up on the fence.

Browne responded well to the pressure, though. He ate one knee to the midsection before peeling off the cage. He caught Barnett flush with a knee as he shot on a double leg takedown, which opened a deep facial cut.

Now hurt, Barnett clung to Browne in a desperate takedown attempt. Browne backed up, dug in along the fence and delivered a series of elbows to the side of Barnett's head that eventually robbed Barnett of consciousness. Referee Yves Lavigne called off the bout.

The final sequence was similar to how Browne knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga in April. The Hawaiian has now won three in a row, all by first-round knockout.

Barnett, a former UFC champion, falls to 5-2 all-time in the Octagon.

Miller shows off grappling skills while submitting Camoes

Jim Miller is good at jiu-jitsu. Miller (23-4) earned his 13th submission with a first-round arm bar against Fabricio Camoes.

The official time of the tap came 3:43 into the lightweight bout.

Early action featured several heavy exchanges in the pocket, as both fighters were willing to plant their feet and throw combinations. Camoes landed the cleanest punch of the round, a hard left hook that caught Miller flush.

The fight went to the ground midway through the round, however, when Miller caught a body kick by Camoes and threw him on his back. Camoes would scramble and eventually reverse the position, but Miller locked in the arm bar from his back.

Miller rebounds from a loss to Pat Healy in his only other performance this year. That result was later changed to a no contest after a failed drug test by Healy.

Camoes falls to 1-2-1 in the UFC.

Poirier blasts through Brandao

Don't make Dustin Poirier mad. You won't like him when he's mad.

Poirier (15-3) blitzed through Diego Brandao in a first-round TKO victory, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to step in with six seconds remaining in the round.

[+] EnlargeDiego Brandao vs. Dustin Poirier
Ed Mulholland for ESPNDustin Poirier, left, survived a tense moment or two before turning things around to cut down Diego Brandao.

The bout featured a little bit of bad blood, as Brandao (18-9) missed weight badly during Friday's official weigh-in. The two got into it on the weigh-in stage immediately after.

Poirier, the No. 8 featherweight in the world according to ESPN.com, set a high pace from the opening bell.

Brandao matched it, but his wide, power-punching style failed to match up well against Poirier's more precise flurries.

Late in the first round, Brandao dropped for a double-leg attempt to slow the pace and managed to drag Poirier to the floor. Poirier would pop up immediately, however, and trap a tiring Brandao along the fence.

A barrage of punches started to find their mark for Poirier, as he went heavy to the body before going back upstairs. A right cross/left hook combination finally put Brandao on his back and the fight was quickly called off.

Afterward, Poirier explained the animosity leading into his bout with Brandao. 

"Diego missing weight really sucked because I busted my butt to make weight," Poirier said."I didn't get to enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas because I'm a professional and making weight is what we agree to do. 

"Honestly, him missing weight isn't what got me so angry though. He started yelling and trash-talking before the weigh-in because he claimed I looked at him weird or something. It felt good to finish him because of that little issue before we weighed in yesterday."

Poirier extends his current win streak to two. The 24-year-old earned a big win over Erik Koch earlier in the year at UFC 164. Poirier's only losses have come against ranked opponents Cub Swanson and Chan Sung Jung.

Brandao loses for the first time since May 2012. The Brazilian had won three consecutive fights headed into the contest.

Hall forces Leben to quit after one round

Uriah Hall finally had a good moment in the UFC, while Chris Leben might have seen his last. Hall (8-4) earned a TKO victory, his first in the UFC, when Leben stopped the fight from his stool in between the first and second rounds.

A right hand by Hall had dropped him moments before the first round ended.

[+] EnlargeUriah Hall vs. Chris Leben
Ed Mulholland for ESPNUriah Hall's more precise striking quickly took a toll on Chris Leben.

"I really wanted to go out there and finish the year in style, so that result [against Leben] was disappointing," Hall said. "I didn't expect that type of ending but all things considered I felt good out there.

"It was a relief to get my first win in the UFC and for me fighting is a scary experience so it's about going out there and overcoming that fear. I enjoy [fighting] but I have a different mindset than most fighters do. I'm a martial artist, not a fighter."

Leben (22-11) spent the entire fight trying to track down Hall. He ran to the center of the cage at the opening bell, only to be met by a perfect knee up the middle.

Despite being dropped by the knee, Leben recovered and pursued Hall with his winging left hand. Hall circled into the middleweight's power with his hands down, but never paid for it, as he effectively slipped all of Leben's offense.

In the final seconds of the round, Hall caught Leben's chin with a counter right hand. Leben fell backwards and was clearly hurt, but ended up being saved by the bell.

Referee Steve Mazzagatti visited Leben after the round, where the fighter decided to stop the bout. It is the fourth knockout loss of Leben's 11-year career.

The middleweight bout was Leben's 22nd appearance for the UFC. He has now suffered four consecutive losses and has only one win since 2011. Hall improves to 1-2 in the Octagon.

Johnson strikes down Tibau

Michael Johnson's wealth of potential is starting to produce results.

[+] EnlargeMichael Johnson vs. Gleison Tibau
Ed Mulholland for ESPNMichael Johnson, left, found his range and promptly took out Gleison Tibau in Round 2.

Johnson (14-8) earned the seventh knockout of his career, dropping Gleison Tibau at 1:32 of the second round. It marks the first time Tibau has been knocked out since Nick Diaz did it at UFC 65 in November 2006.

I didn't expect to finish him because he's so tough but I was looking for the knockout every second I was in that Octagon," Johnson said.

"It was important to my camp and my management team to get the victory because Gleison is a member of our rival gym ATT in Florida. The physical ability is automatic in this sport because everyone in the UFC is very gifted -- but the mental game is where I feel I have an edge."

Following a close first round, Johnson's movement started to take a toll on Tibau (28-10) in the second. The finish came as Tibau looked to move forward on the quicker Johnson and walked into a blitz of a left hand.

The straight left caught Tibau near the right temple and had him visibly hurt. Referee Yves Lavigne quickly moved in to end the fight.

Johnson, a former cast member on "The Ultimate Fighter," utilized footwork and fast hands to get in and out of Tibau's range. He ate a left hook by Tibau early, but responded later in the first round with a right hand that staggered the Brazilian.

A member of the Blackzilians team in Boca Raton, Fla., Johnson has won two in a row. His overall UFC record sits at 6-4. Tibau sees a 2-fight winning streak snapped.

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