Going into a scheduled phone interview with Junie Browning of the current season of Spike TV and UFC‘s hit reality show The Ultimate Fighter, I had no idea what to expect. Actually, after having watched Browning’s antics on the show, I expected the worst. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Junie Browning I spoke to on the phone was a lot different than the person I’ve been watching on the show.
During the course of the interview, I asked Browning a lot of tough questions. Throughout the duration, he didn’t try and take an easy way out or offer spin. Browning responded to each and every question in a straightforward manner and he did so in a polite, professional manner.
So just who is the real Junie Browning? During an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com, we tried to find out.
Sam Caplan: What made you want to become a fighter?
Junie Browning: To be honest, there pretty much was nothing else I could really do. The whole college thing wasn’t really going to work out for me and I thought that the funnest way to make a living would be to fight, as it was something I was naturally good at anyways.
Sam Caplan: What was your childhood like? Did you have a tough time growing up?
Junie Browning: I had a little bit of an anger problem growing up while in high school. I think that the only thing that really helped me was to start doing MMA. Once I joined the gym it helped a lot. I didn’t get into too much trouble after that.
Sam Caplan: While doing some research on you, I read that you have a brother serving in the Armed Forces?
Junie Browning: Yeah, he actually just got out. He was in the Air Force for five years. He just got out and now he’s back in Iraq as a civilian contractor.
Sam Caplan: I also read that you have another brother who is also a fighter?
Junie Browning: Yeah, I have two older brothers and one younger. There’s one that is in the Armed Forces and the one that is a year older than me is a police officer and the one that is below me, he fights to and he goes to our school.
Sam Caplan: You’ve garnered a lot of screen time thus far into the season and some have even speculated that some of your actions this season have been part of a calculated plan to ensure camera time. Is there any truth to that?
Junie Browning: Not necessarily. None of the stuff I did was pre-meditated. It wasn’t like I was intentionally trying to get camera time. I just told myself going on the show that I wasn’t going to be like a lot of other guys in the house. I felt like a lot of the other guys in the house were putting on a front because they wanted to appear a certain way in front of the camera for the benefit of the audience. I told myself going on the show that I wasn’t going to let the camera dictate the way I acted and I was just going to be myself completely. I wasn’t going to hold back. I don’t really care what people think, really. So I just did what I normally did.
Sam Caplan: So you felt there were some people with fake personalities on the show?
Junie Browning: I think pretty much everybody on there was. If someone was an a—— to someone that had an anger management problem, they’d just sit on the couch and kept their mouth shut and twiddled their thumbs. They were so intimidated by the cameras. What they were worried about was the way they were going to come off on TV. I didn’t really care.
Sam Caplan: When Dana White confronted you during Episode 4, you acknowledged that you had a problem with alcohol. Were you sincere in your answer and if so, how severe of a problem do you think it is?
Junie Browning: Back here at home I don’t think it’s that big of a problem. I go out occasionally to bars and drink but I never acted the way that I did on the show back here. I did back in high school a little bit and acted a little crazy and started fights, but that’s pretty stereotypical of how everyone acted at that age. But I think going on the show that the house turns you into an alcoholic. It almost felt like high school or being around a bunch of college buddies: all young guys instigating and acting crazy.
Sam Caplan: Do you feel the UFC is hypocritical in that they want fighters to carry themselves professionally but on the other hand they’ll lock fighters in a house and give them access to an open bar. Do you feel the UFC is to blame at all?
Junie Browning: No, I wouldn’t blame the UFC. I think the reality show isn’t a reflection of how the UFC is run. I believe somewhat in what Dana was saying, that they put it there so they could see the way you’re going to act. They wanted to see if you could control yourself and most of the guys aren’t as crazy as me. They would have a couple of drinks and didn’t act the way I did. I don’t put any of the blame on the UFC.
Sam Caplan: Right before Dana confronted both you and Shane in front of the house, did you expect the worst?
Junie Browning: Yeah, I was pretty much 100% sure I was going home. I’ve watched every season religiously and there’s guys that have been kicked off just for refereeing a fight. I was more than sure I was going home.
Sam Caplan: I interview Shane a few weeks back and he took responsibility for his actions. But he said that the cameras didn’t show his apology the next day. Was there an apology made on your part after the events of that night that the audience didn’t get to see?
Junie Browning: Yeah, it was pretty much like the first episode in the house where I was back and forth. That was pretty much the entire night (laughs). After I did something I was like, “Sorry guys! Sorry!” And then five seconds later someone would say something else and I would attack them and say “Sorry guys! I’m so Sorry! Wait, what did you say!?” I always tried to apologize to the guys but I don’t think a lot of them were having it after I started acting dumb as often as I did.
Sam Caplan: If Dana had kicked you out, was it something you would have complained about?
Junie Browning: No, it would have killed me. I would have lost a part of myself after that. But it was something I would have had to accept, the consequences for my actions.
Sam Caplan: Do you feel that it would have been justified on his part?
Junie Browning: Yeah, completely. I was watching the show as if it wasn’t me and the whole time I’m watching it I was like “Damn, they really should kick that a—– off there.” Then I realized it’s me.
Sam Caplan: What’s been the reaction from some of your family and friends?
Junie Browning: The lifestyle around here is a little bit different. When they watch it over here, they love it. They’ll give me high fives. And I have the biggest fanbase over here than anywhere else. I think I was the guy that had sat on the couch and talked about the economy, I don’t think people around here would have been too thrilled about the show.
Sam Caplan: Right before your qualifying fight against Jose Agallar, they showed an interview clip of you saying that the difference between you and the other competitors was that you could fight and they were there to just get free TapouT shirt. During the course of the show, did your opinion change?
Junie Browning: You know, I knew pretty much everybody could fight there. I just don’t feel like any of them were as good as me. And a lot of them, they come off a little nervous. A lot of them seemed so timid when it comes to the fights, they were nervous and stuff. I really just didn’t give a s—. I would have fought any of them at any moment. I didn’t really care.
Sam Caplan: Is having an edge right before you fight one way to counter some of the nervousness that a fighter might experience?
Junie Browning: Most of it was just to entertain myself. It makes the fight a little more interesting when a little s— is talked. It’ll make me fight harder if someone isn’t very happy with me (laughs).
Sam Caplan: So in a way, you’re trying to back yourself into a corner?
Junie Browning: Uh, I guess so.
Sam Caplan: Do you find yourself getting recognized a lot these days?
Junie Browning: Yeah. Most of the time I feel like someone is going to come up to me and say something negative but I’ve never actually received a negative comment in public before. Everyone seems to love it. Pretty much everywhere I go now I get recognized.
Sam Caplan: Do you have any regrets about any of the things you said or did on the show?
Junie Browning: At the time, yeah. I pretty much regretted everything. But looking back, I don’t really care. It’s entertaining to me, at least. I mean, if it wasn’t for me acting like a fool on TV, then it would have just been a bunch of guys eating organic food and talking about the weather. Last season was boring. Last season was so boring that I am sort of glad it didn’t turn out like that.
Sam Caplan: At any point did you get encouragement from the camera?
Junie Browning: No, nothing like that at all. They don’t encourage you. They don’t even talk to you. You’re not even allowed to talk to anybody. You’re not even allowed to talk to the camerman, or nothing.
Sam Caplan: Phillipe Nover does a weekly blog for our website after each episode. On one of his blogs he was kind of surprised that you referred to him as a “sacrificial lamb” behind his back. Then he said he was surprised that when you had a chance to pick him as an opponent to fight, you didn’t. He wrote, “He never disrespected me to my face. He always called me a ‘Tough Filipino.’ He either respected me as a fighter or he feared me.” Can you comment on that?
Junie Browning: He said I feared him?
Sam Caplan: He said you either respected him as a fighter, or you feared him.
Junie Browning: No, I didn’t fear him at all. I respected him, completely. Even the sacrificial lamb comment was more of a joke. Shane Primm was telling me that was who they were thinking about. It wasn’t him as an individual. Pretty much anybody on their team that they would have given me would have been a bad decision on their part. It wasn’t him individually. I knew he was a good fighter, day one. I liked him, a lot. It wasn’t any disrespect. I would have said it no matter who they were talking about.
The decision to fight Roli wasn’t something I picked. Frank always picked the fights and we’d just agree. The way I was looking at it was that I was going to be fighting everyone anyways so it didn’t really matter who I fight. So when Frank asked if I’d fight him, I said “yeah.”
Sam Caplan: If Mir had given you the choice to fight anyone, who would you have picked a that point?
Junie Browning: I probably would have picked Delgado. Because the way I look at it, I think the best people should fight each other in the semifinals and finals. I don’t understand why you would match up some of the best people early on and the way I look at it, me, Efrain, and Phillipe were probably the best three left. It wouldn’t make sense. If you want the best people fighting, it should happen in the semis or the finale.