Mir-ed In Junie Drama

By Loretta Hunt Dec 12, 2008
The antics of Junie Allen Browning jettisoned him onto on the main card of “The Ultimate Fighter 8” Finale this Saturday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, but coach Frank Mir doesn’t believe the promotion is warranted.

“It does reward his behavior,” Mir said during a Thursday conference call for the event. “I think in the future that shows people that get on the show that as long as they act like a moron and an idiot that they get to have time. That face time equals money, so maybe they don't have to put that much effort into fighting.”

Browning, a rough-around-the-edges Kentuckian, quickly horded the show’s spotlight with his prickly tongue and drama queen behavior, and he wore out the nerves of his housemates just as fast. On multiple occasions, the 23-year-old faced expulsion for endangering the welfare of a castmate, but UFC President Dana White vetoed all moves to have the bad apple removed. Browning was eventually eliminated by Efrain Escudero in the reality show’s semi-final round but left a heap of ill will in his wake.

Mir, who called his selection of Browning for his team “a mistake” in his young coaching career, wasn’t enthused when White decided to allow Browning to advance to the semi-finals following an outburst with a coffee mug.

“I didn’t agree with it,” said the former UFC heavyweight champion. “I thought it worked out in the end fine. I understand why Dana did what he did. It looked better that Efrain got to smash his a-- and show that he quit in the fight, you know? But if there was a chance that he would have won or what not, that could have looked bad, but at the same time, I don’t even think he should have had the opportunity to fight Efrain.”

Things looked shaky for the blonde, baby-faced Browning from day one, as he seemed able to pick verbal and physical confrontations out of almost any situation. In response, the UFC and Spike TV pushed the troubled fighter’s storyline to the forefront immediately. Free-flowing alcohol provided by the producers only fueled Browning’s tirades on the rest of the cast.

Viewers at home got to watch the watered-down version, however. Mir, who was entrusted with Browning’s training every day for six weeks, got the full concentration.

“In the very beginning, I think I tried to talk to him,” said Mir. “I guess I’m just not a babysitter. I’m not one to sit there and hold someone’s hand and try and make them to be a fighter. Hopefully Junie can find that in the future. He can find his babysitter and somebody that’ll console him and give him, I guess, the special love that he needs.”

Mir, who faces fellow coach and UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92 on Dec. 27 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, saw Browning’s influence on his team too late.

“Mentally, I think Junie Browning was a huge disappointment,” he said. “I thought he was extremely talented guy, and if [there was] any mistake that I really made, [it] was maybe not trying to force him off the team harder because I think that he kind of brought down the root of everyone else.”

In hindsight, Mir said he wishes the show had taken a different course of action with the fighter.

“If I had complete control, I would have kicked Junie off the first week, after I’d seen his behavior, and edited him out, so no one got to see him at all,” said Mir. “I think he does give a bad name and face to everybody.”

Mir, who began his professional career at the age of 22, believes the attention Browning receives does a disservice to lightweight finalists Phillipe Nover and Efrain Escudero.

“The only reason why the whole Junie situation upset me so much was because it’s a bad example for other people, and [we’re] seeing that he gets to have success now because of his erratic behavior,” said Mir. “I hear more people taking about Junie Browning more then they are about Phillipe Nover and Efrain, which I think is an insult to those two fighters. They are the better martial artists. They are the better fighters.”
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