Travis Browne talks 'tough year,' decision to stick with coach Edmond Tarverdyan

Heavyweight Travis Browne, left, looks to snap a two-fight losing skid when he meets Derrick Lewis on Feb. 19 at UFC Fight Night in Nova Scotia. Michael F. McElroy for ESPN

LAS VEGAS -- Despite internet rumors to the contrary, UFC heavyweight Travis Browne has maintained his working relationship with polarizing MMA coach Edmond Tarverdyan.

Browne (18-5-1) is scheduled to face Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night on Feb. 19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is currently training for the bout in Las Vegas.

Although he has trained primarily out of California in recent years, Browne said moving the camp to the desert has nothing to do with splitting ties with Tarverdyan, who runs a gym out of the Los Angeles area.

"He's still my coach," Browne told ESPN's 5ive Rounds podcast. "He comes out quite a bit. He comes out every week to help. The only difference is it's not in his gym.

"When I was doing my whole camp in Los Angeles, [Las Vegas-based coach] Ricky Lundell would come out once a week. So, it's the same thing. We're just doing it out here."

Speculation regarding Browne possibly leaving Tarverdyan was likely fed by Ronda Rousey's recent performance at UFC 207 in December. Rousey (12-2), who is in a romantic relationship with Browne, suffered her second consecutive knockout defeat, this time to Amanda Nunes in 48 seconds.

Browne, 34, said part of the reason Tarverdyan receives so much criticism might be his reaction to it -- which is essentially, there is none. Browne says Tarverdyan is more interested in doing right by his athletes than worrying about his own reputation among the public.

"I think it's easy to judge from the outside," Browne said. "Anybody I've ever had in camp to work with me as a training partner is always like, 'Man, Edmond knows what he's talking about.' He has a great fight IQ.

"He doesn't care [about his reputation]. That's the difference. He doesn't care about looking good to everybody. He cares about being good to the people around him. [The criticisms] are for the the wrong reasons. I understand a guy like that could be easier to dislike because he doesn't care. I think I get the same rap sometimes. I'm disliked a lot and it's probably for the wrong reasons."

One of the specific criticisms Tarverdyan has faced relates to what he has yelled to fighters during and in between rounds. According to Browne, Tarverdyan's instructions between rounds have always been on point -- and as far as what's said during a round, he doesn't even hear it.

"During a round, unless the crowd is quiet, which a lot of times it isn't in my fights, you're standing there and the coach yells, 'One-two, one-two low kick.' Whatever it is, you don't really hear stuff. When you're in a fight and leather is being traded, I mean, are you really going to hear your coach?

"He's an emotional guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. That's something I appreciate about him. He loves his athletes and he shows his athletes he loves them. For me, in between rounds, what he has told me has been good and spot on."

Although Browne hasn't made any significant changes to his coaching staff, he does admit 2016 was a "tough year." Browne went 1-2 in three appearances, and is coming off losses to Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. Rousey, meanwhile, went 0-1 in her long-awaited return from losing her title to Holly Hom in November 2015.

UFC president Dana White recently said he believes Rousey is "probably done" fighting professionally. Browne declined to speak on Rousey's behalf, but said they are both are in a good place, despite last year's setbacks.

"She's doing great and she's in a good place. For me, I have a fight Feb. 19 and that's all that matters," Browne said.

"I don't know [Rousey's fighting future]. Her and I haven't really had that talk. That's going to be her decision she has got to make. Honestly, I don't know. When the time comes, she's going to do it her way. That's what people that support her I think will appreciate. She'll do it like she did everything else: Her way."