Two very heavy-hitting middleweight strikers collided yesterday (April 14, 2012) when "The All-American" Brian Stann battled Italian boxer Alessio Sakara in the co-main event of UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Both men were very capable with their hands, although Stann had less wear and tear on him thus far in his career heading into the bout and he entered as the heavy favorite despite dealing with a death in the family during his training camp.
In the end, the odds proved correct as Stann was able to hurt Sakara both standing and on the ground to score a knockout victory.
So how did the former marine pull it off? And what's next for both middleweights?
Early on, Sakara claimed control of the cage center while Stann worked from the outside and attempted to land a series of leg kicks. Sakara tried to time the kicks with a counter left but instead found success by catching Stann's kicking leg and cracking him with a nice right hand as he tried to back away.
After the leg kicks failed, Stann instead chose to step into the pocket and slug it out with Sakara. This proved much more effective as he was able to outland the Italian with a nice flurry of punches despite slipping mid-combination.
Sakara responded to the heavy strikes strangely, but getting closer to Stann with his head ducked down low. Acting reactively, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter blasted Sakara with a knee to the face which sent him crashing to the canvas.
Stann tried to follow up with heavy ground and pound but his strikes weren't coming in hard enough or clean enough and Sakara began to clear out the cobwebs. Stann eventually gave up on standing over Sakara to drop punches and entered his closed guard.
Once Sakara felt he was no longer in danger, he stopped covering up and this was his downfall. Stann reached down and held his head with his right hand and blasted the American Top Team fighter with his left hand. This stunned Sakara and then the next two follow-up left hands rolled his eyes in the back of his head which forced a flash stoppage on the ground.
For Alessio Sakara, he is who we thought he was. Sakara wasn't in the top 25 while Brian Stann was still in the fringe top 10 and despite having a bit of success with his counter striking game, he was unable to hang with Stann in the pocket and he definitely wasn't able to absorb three consecutive clean left hands from Stann on the ground. His reaction to getting hit on the feet was very poor as it only opened up new avenues to get blasted which Stann utilized.
If he can actually remain healthy, I would expect Sakara to drop way down the middleweight ladder and take on someone who's also coming off a loss like veteran Jared Hamman or Clifford Starks. Another possibility could be veteran Tim Credeur.
For Brian Stann, he looked strong, although not perfect. He got a little sloppy when he started brawling with Sakara and could have been put down by someone who could remain composed in the pocket a bit better. Stann did showcase some terrific striking instincts, however, which how he reacted to Sakara's change in levels among other things.
I hope they don't rush him back to the top as I feel his wrestling still needs some time to develop. I'd like to see Stann face someone like Ed Herman next or perhaps Constantinos Philippou. Another possibility could be the upcoming winner of Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares at the upcoming UFC on FOX 3 event in three weeks. Again, I hope he's not thrown straight to the wolves again.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did this fight go exactly as you would have expected? Who would you match Stann up against next if you'd like to see him continue to develop properly?