Middleweight battles Alessio Sakara in co-main event Saturday
As the UFC pushes closer and closer to becoming a staple in the mainstream sports culture, stars will begin to emerge. Among the handful of athletes who appear to be on the verge of a higher profile, Brian Stann is holding his own.
Both in and out of the cage, Stann has made his presence felt as he’s put in memorable turns as a fight analyst in addition to his impressive performances making his way up the middleweight rankings.
The American war hero-turned-middleweight powerhouse has been a force at 185 pounds, and despite a recent loss to No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen, Stann is ready to get back on track when he faces Alessio Sakara on Saturday at UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva in Sweden.
“A win over Sakara will help me regain my momentum in the division,” Stann told HeavyMMA. “He’s a very good opponent and a tough guy who’s been in the UFC a long time. Anyone you fight at this level in the UFC is going to be a tough opponent. When you fall off the horse and get a loss, you have to jump right back. You get a 'W,' your confidence is high and you’re rolling again. That is what I have to go out there and do on Saturday.
“This division is more competitive than it’s ever been. If you look at it a couple of years ago, you had guys like Thales Leites and Demian Maia competing for the title. They are great fighters, but now we’ve had guys who have defeated all of them and it’s become a much more competitive division. We have guys like Mark Munoz, Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, myself and a laundry list of guys who are there right now. Vitor Belfort is going strong. Wanderlei (Silva) picked up another win. The division is going strong, but Anderson Silva still remains the best fighter to ever enter the Octagon.”
Powerful striking has always been a key factor to Stann’s success, but since his drop to 185 pounds, his increased speed and athleticism have allowed him to tear his opposition. Keeping the fight standing when facing Stann is a hard road to take, and with Sakara’s boxing background and history for putting his striking to task, fans are almost guaranteed fireworks when the two fighters collide in Stockholm.
“Obviously, I think I have the power advantage,” Stann said. “He’s a very fluid boxer with great hands. I think I’m more diverse in my striking skills and I’m just a better athlete. I think he is going to have trouble forcing his will in the striking game against me due to the power and athleticism I’m going to put in front of him.
“I know what I’m going to do. Fans are going to see me step in the Octagon, move forward and go on offense right away. I’m going to fight aggressively like I always do and look to get the win right. That’s just how I fight. Sometimes I make mistakes and trip up because I try to land and get caught in certain things, but that’s part of the game and that is what makes the sport so great.”
The further Stann pushes into his career, the more opportunities seem to be arising. When the UFC visited Omaha in February to make its debut on Fuel TV, Stann was tapped to do analyst work on the pre- and post-fight programs. The reviews hit the Internet immediately, and Stann was a lights-out hit in the booth. After seeing his performance, the executives at Fox requested Stann’s analyst services for future programs, and it’s a position he is more than happy to accept.
“It’s really been a lot of fun, and I was honored to do it as a late replacement in Omaha,” Stann said. “I got lucky the right people were watching while I was on, and they asked me to do the live Fox shows. It’s a really fun transition for me, and truly the easiest job I’ve ever had. That’s if you want to call it a 'job,' because I’m doing the same thing I would be doing inside of my own home. I’m really excited for it and I hope it is something I can continue to do. It is really a lot of fun, and the people I’ve met through it are really great.”
While you're here, watch Brian relive Operation Matador in this gripping video below.