In what has turned into somewhat of a grudge match, Junie Browning takes on Cole Miller on April 1 from the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn., just a three-hour drive from his Lexington, Ky., stomping grounds. Eager to fight close to home, The Ultimate Fighter season 8 cast member expects an exciting fight.
Browning, 3-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career, is coming off a submission victory over Dave Kaplan at The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale on Dec. 13, 2008.
Miller, who also appeared on The Ultimate Fighter in the Spike TV original series' fifth season, has a 13-3 record and hasn't competed since July at UFC 86 where he submitted Jorge Gurgel by triangle choke.
The two have engaged in a verbal sparring match sparked by an interview where Browning commented on Miller's submission win over Gurgel, but Browning insists he didn't mean any disrespect by his comments.
"I truthfully have nothing against him. I'm actually somewhat of a fan of him," Browning told MMAWeekly.com. "They asked me about the Gurgel fight and I said I thought it was more of a mistake on Gurgel's part. He might have set it up for the spider guard or whatever. I never said anything bad.
"I'm not going to take it any further than what it is," he continued. "I wasn't being anything but respectful toward him. I just made one comment about the Gurgel fight. I might be wrong about it. Maybe he set it up perfectly, but when you're getting beat up for three rounds and finally catch a submission, I might have looked at it wrong. I didn't mean anything disrespectful by what I said, but if he wants to make it something personal, we can do it."
In an interview with MMAWeekly Radio on March 18, Miller said he should "walk through" Browning.
Browning responded, "I don't know why he thinks I'm Andy Wang, but I'm not. He must be getting me confused with the way I was on the show. Obviously he watched my fights on the show and he thinks that's how it is."
Since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Browning has joined Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas for fight preparations. Miller trains out of American Top Team in Coconut Beach, Fla., two of the most renowned training facilities in mixed martial arts.
"The cool thing about this fight is me and Cole, we're not the top level caliber guys in the UFC, but we both have about the same amount of experience and we're both training at two of the best camps in the entire world," said Browning. "Extreme has a lot of guys that me or him couldn't handle, but at the same time he's training with guys that are top, world class too.
"Since I've been at Xtreme Couture I've been training with a lot of good ground guys," commented the Kentuckian. "I think the difference between American Top Team and Xtreme Couture is we're a lot more evolved in MMA training. I think down at ATT, they do a lot more pajama fighting still and a lot more traditional stuff. I think the stuff we do works for MMA a little bit more."
That's not to suggest that he takes anything away from Miller in breaking down their fight.
"I think he knows what I'm going to try to do and I think I know what he's going to try to do. His stand up isn't bad. He's pretty technical and stuff. I feel like I'm a lot more aggressive and a lot more powerful than him. And I know for sure I'll be the biggest guy he's fought so far and the strongest," said Browning.
"I'm just going to try to put fists through his face. If he can stand, he can stand. But I have a feeling he'll go down for my ankles within the first three minutes and we'll see how well he can do on the ground. I know he's pretty good, but just because you have a brown belt, that doesn't automatically give you a submission.
He also knows that in the end, the talk is just talk, and he believes the two match-up well, at least for the fans. "Regardless of what he or I say, it's got to be an exciting fight. There's no way someone can deny it's going to be a good match-up. Even though he says different, I think in his mind he knows that's exactly how it's going to be."
The TapouT sponsored Browning dedicated this fight to the late Charles Lewis, Jr., aka "Mask," the co-founder of the popular mixed martial arts clothing company who passed away in an automobile accident on March 11.