In the early part of 2008, mixed martial arts (MMA) was suffering from an identity crisis.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was ahead of the pack, but faced competition from Kimbo Slice and EliteXC, who managed to capture the mainstream audience with record-setting ratings on CBS. In addition, Strikeforce was breaking a few records of its own, thanks to a massive turnout for "Shamrock vs. Gracie."
Then there was World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), MMA's little engine who could.
With future stars like Urijah Faber, Carlos Condit and Chael Sonnen leading the charge, WEC was doing work on the Versus network after being acquired by ZUFFA, parent company of UFC, who opted to keep the rosters -- and its titles -- separate from one another.
And Doug Marshall was ruler of the 205-pound kingdom.
Looking to usurp the throne was a talented young striker named Brian Stann, who needed something to keep him busy during his downtime as a member of the armed forces. The combat veteran had quickly racked up five straight technical knockout (TKO) victories to establish himself as the division number one contender, earning his shot at WEC 33 back on March 26, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here's how it all went down.
A touch of gloves gets the action underway and Stann tests the waters with a couple of jabs before burying his foot into the lead leg of Marshall, who doesn't even bat an eyelash and fires his own low kick to return the favor. "The All American" comes over the top in consecutive attacks and "The Rhino" retreats.
"That overhand right that Brian Stann is loading up with, if he hits Doug Marshall square with that, he's going to knock him to Afghanistan," warns WEC play-by-play man Todd Harris.
The active-duty Marine walks him down with a left/right combination and Marshall takes a traditional Muay Thai stance prior to slapping an inside low kick into the thigh of his attacker. Stann charges in with punches but gets tangled in the Plum before opening up to the body.
Marshall spins right and circles back, puts Stann against the cage and unloads with punches.
What starts as a technical exchange quickly dissolves into a firefight and Stann is taking abuse, but a wild counterpunch lands square on Marshall's jaw and his legs fail him. Referee Herb Dean darts into position and only allows a handful of follow-up punches to find their mark before calling the fight.
Brian Stann is your new WEC Light Heavyweight Champion.
While the gold would subsequently be drafted to the waist of Steve Cantwell later that year, Stann would get his revenge under the UFC banner and compile a respectable 6-4 record inside the Octagon, one that will soon include PRIDE FC legend Wanderlei Silva as both fighters return to the 205-pound weight class for the promotion's trip to "The Land of the Rising Sun."
That's where "The Axe Murderer" will attempt to dishonorably discharge Stann from the UFC on FUEL TV 8 main event, which emanates from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on March 2, 2013.
For more on their upcoming headliner click here.