Last night at MMA Big Show: Onslaught, former UFC lightweight and TUF firecracker Junie Browning (4-1) forced Steve Cornwell (1-1) to tap via triangle choke just beyond the three minute mark of the first round.
While the performance during the fight served as further proof that Browning has undeniable raw talent, his antics on the microphone afterward solidified this writer's stance that the kid from Kentucky still has a lot of growing up to do and it should be done outside of the cage.
According to Jack Bratcher of Pro MMA, who was covering the event in Belterra, Indiana, when "The Lunatik" was handed the microphone post-fight, the boos rained down and Browning responded in kind, stating "I try to come out here and put on a show. If you don't like it, then f@*k ya'll," before adding "Ladies, after this I want two lines, one for s*@king and one for f*@king."
Nothing like a nice show of class to validate all the boos...
As brutal as Browning's post-fight comments are - and they're absolutely brutal - the more troubling part of all of this for me is the numerous references being made today to what a great guy Junie is outside of the ring and how all this is simply a persona he puts on to garner attention.
I don't know Browning from Adam, but don't doubt he is a charming and engaging guy outside of the cage. This "loose cannon, bad boy" is most assuredly an image Browning has chosen to portray inside the cage and as a fighter, but a major conflict lies within said image.
"The Lunatik" himself has said that part of the cause of his various antics is an inability to deal with the pressure and attention that came from being on The Ultimate Fighter, and that he just wants to be like everyone else.
He doesn't like the attention and doesn't know how to cope with it at times, which is, at least in part, what led to his allegedly downing a handful of anti-anxiety pills just two months ago in what his trainer Shawn Tompkins refered to as "not a cry for help; Junie tried to end his life."
So if he's admitted on a number of occasions that he doesn't know how to deal with the attention and pressure of being "The Lunatik" Junie Browning, what good can come from putting him out there in front of hundreds of people who are going to poke and provoke him into giving them exactly what they came for - a Junie Browning outburst?
This isn't about trying to say how or when Browning can earn a living or capitalize on the attention his latest outburst has already received; this is about being concerned for a kid who has shown dangerous and destructive tendancies very recently being put under the spotlight he admittedly doesn't know how to handle.
Why not keep him out of the public eye for a while, help him learn a thing or two about professionalism and how to deal with the attention that is going to come whether he likes it or not?
For every fan that shows up to see him fight and wish him well, there are going to be far more in attendance to try to set the ticking time bomb off, and that group succeeded last night.
They can now tell the story of being there when Junie Browning cursed out the crowd, and all the fighter is left with is another black eye in the media and, as hard as it is to fathom, a even-more damaged reputation.
All the accounts of Browning being a great guy when the lights go out are probably true, but as a professional fighter, his job entails performing under those lights, so learning how to handle himself accordingly is part of the job.
No one is saying he has to be a boy scout, but there is a lot of room between boy scout and Browning right now and finding some kind of middle ground is going to be essential if he wants to keep fighting for a living.
The kid has admitted he has a problem, yet a majority of people seem to have no issue with not taking any real time to address that problem.
I love watching fights as much as the next person, but if the kid is stepping up and admitting that he doesn't know how to deal with the attention and pressure of "being Junie Browning," wouldn't it make sense to spare him the spotlight and let him figure things out for a while?
If he's in the cage and on a fight card, people are going to want that Junie Browning.
He proved last night that he's going to give the fans what they came for.
Unfortunately, that's nowhere near as admirable as it sounds.
This kid needs to sort things out and grow up, two things that he won't do inside a cage operating under his "Junie Browning persona."
How come more people can't see that?