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Travis Browne: Fight with Derrick Lewis is personal

Travis Browne, left, has lost three of his last five fights, including a unanimous decision against Fabricio Werdum in September. Michael F. McElroy for ESPN

As far as Travis Browne is concerned, there's no such thing as an impersonal call-out.

UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis has been asking to fight Browne for a while now. Obviously, there must be a reason for that -- and Browne says it's impossible to not take offense from it.

"He's looking up and down the top 10 for the easiest fight and choosing my name," Browne said. "I don't know how much more personal it gets than that.

"I'm not usually one to talk trash, and I do respect him as a fighter, but you want to test yourself, buddy? I'm your man. I'll show you what this s--- is all about up here."

The matchup is booked for UFC 208 on Feb. 11, which will take place inside Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Lewis (17-4) will be seeking his sixth consecutive win.

It's a crossroads fight for Browne (18-5-1), who is 1-3 in his past four. Three years ago, Browne was in a spot similar to where Lewis is now. He'd won 11 of his first 13 appearances in the UFC and was being touted as the future of the division. Reality has played out much different.

The 34-year-old looked flat in his most recent fight, a three-round decision loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 203 in September.

"He's looking up and down the top 10 for the easiest fight and choosing my name. I don't know how much more personal it gets than that." Travis Browne

Browne said he didn't want it to come across as an excuse, but admits he was completely thrown off early in that fight when he suffered a badly dislocated finger. The injury led to a strange moment in which the referee paused the fight so Browne could see a ringside doctor.

Eventually, the bout continued, but it should have been called right then.

"That was the weirdest sensation I've ever had in a fight," Browne said. "I looked down and saw a bone popping out of my hand. When that happens, and there's a dude trying to take your head off, I didn't know what to do. I got a timeout I maybe wasn't supposed to. I don't know what to tell you.

"Going into that fight, I was ready to f------ scrap, get down, ugly, go after it. And then that weird s--- happens, it took the wind out of my sails."

Browne intends to keep his training camp in Glendale, California, and will continue working with boxing coach Edmond Tarverdyan and grappling coach Ricky Lundell. He's hoping to get work in with Blackzilians grappling coach Neil Melanson, and add several new sparring partners as well.

The Hawaiian native is 2-3 since leaving Jackson-Wink MMA for Tarverdyan's Glendale Fighting Club. Following the switch, Browne's focus was improving his hands, and while he feels that has happened, it might have taken him away from the rest of his skill set.

"It's time to use what I've learned but still incorporate more of my game," Browne said. "Whatever strikes I need to throw, I need to let them go. I remember in the Cain [Velasquez fight, UFC 200], I was thinking, 'I should throw a kick. I should throw a kick,' and I just didn't.

"I didn't come from wrestling. I didn't come from boxing or kickboxing. These are my growing pains and you're seeing me develop on the biggest stage against the best of the best. I feel the best is yet to come. Keep doubting me. Please keep doubting me. I will give you something to be upset about if you doubt me."