Sixteen times, Travis Browne has made the long walk to the Octagon.
The ninth-ranked heavyweight in the UFC has had his shares of wins and losses, battling some of the biggest and baddest men in MMA. And each time, Browne has felt the nerves. The heightened heart rate keeping beat for the monstrous butterflies circling inside his stomach. The anxious gnawing, knowing you’re about to get into a fight.
Burdened with a three-fight losing streak, Browne (18-6-1) will doubtless feel all of that again when he takes on 14th-ranked Aleksei Oleinik (51-10-1) on July 8 at UFC 213 in Las Vegas.
Yet Browne, who was in Los Angeles on Thursday to promote UFC 213, says none of that comes close to what was racing through his mind and body two months ago when he proposed to Ronda Rousey in New Zealand.
Browne has been dating the former UFC phenom for more than two years since they met while training at Glendale Fighting Club.
Little did he know that before he popped the question April 20 under a waterfall, Rousey had an inkling something was up. Browne had such a vision for how it would all go that he got “a little snappy” leading up to it.
“I was kinda like on edge a little bit. It’s funny ’cause afterward, after I proposed, she was like, ‘I was wondering what was up because you were a little off,’” the 6-foot-7 Hawaiian said. “We’re on vacation. I’m usually the most laid-back guy, but I just had this thing where I was one track and it was like just not being normal.”
Browne said pictures taken before and after the engagement also told the story.
Before? “I showed my buddy the picture and he’s like, ‘Who’s that guy? That’s not your smile, that’s not your demeanor. That’s not you. That doesn’t even look like you.’”
After? “Get back to the after and it looks like me. Just that personal stress and pressure you put on yourself. I wanted everything to be perfect. And the least she deserves is me being perfect. That was like the pressure I put on myself.”
As for how the nerves compare when proposing versus getting ready to be punched in the face, Browne says there is no comparison.
“That’s life, man,” Browne said of asking Rousey to marry him. “Fighting is a part of life, right? It’s my career and all that kind of stuff. For me, I’m a family man. I absolutely love my family and they’re the closest thing to my heart. And to me, that’s my life. That’s actually why I have to separate myself from my kids and…