Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Light Heavyweight Champion, Brian Stann, will take on ex-PRIDE FC smasher, Wanderlei Silva, in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 8 this Saturday night (March 2, 2013) at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Stann was a college football player and highly decorated Marine before transitioning into a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. The "All-American" destroyed his early opposition, knocking out his first six opponents in the first round and winning the WEC 205-pound strap.
Although he lost his title in his next fight, the division was absorbed into the UFC immediately after.
Stann started off his UFC career with mixed success, going 2-2 in his first four fights. Stann realized his opposition was too large for him and decided to cut an extra twenty pounds to get to the middleweight division. It turned out to be an excellent choice, as Stann finished his first three opponents before losing to top contender Chael Sonnen.
A quick knockout win followed by another loss to an elite opponent leaves Stann in need of a victory to start his ascension back to the top of the division, which oddly enough, begins in his original weight class.
His opportunity for said win will come against one of the most legendary fighters in the sport's history, the ultra violent "Axe Murderer." Does Stann have the skills to take out the former Chute Boxe fighter?
Let's find out.
While Stann is a pretty well-rounded fighter, the best aspect of his game is his striking. Stann has always had huge power and has been adding attacks to his arsenal under the tutelage of Jackson's MMA striking coach, Mike Winkeljon.
While still more of a brawler than a refined tactician, Stann has some solid technique.
He has an accurate one-two combination that he'll throw often, but it's only to disguise his true intention of getting in close and firing off hard combinations of short strikes. Stann loves nothing more than getting in his opponent's face and throwing a barrage of hooks and uppercuts, rotating between the body and head.
Once Stann starts to tee off, he'll attack until the ref pulls him off.
Stann's best punch is clearly his right hook. He doesn't need a lot of room for it to do damage and often goes to this punch when he feels his opponent is hurt. In addition to throwing it in the midst of his own combinations, Stann often attempts to duck his opponent's punches and counter with a single right hook.
Stann is at his best when he is in a clinch war with his opponent. When he is in close, he can throw a flurry of hooks and uppercuts at his opponent and his strength advantage is even more apparent. Since they are so close together, Stann knows the punches will land, and can focus on volume rather than aiming each individual punch.
Additionally, Stann will stop his onslaught to grab the back of his opponent's head and introduce it to his knee. His devastating clinch attack was key in his victories over the iron-chinned Chris Leben and Italian boxer Alessio Sakara.
According to Fightmetric, "The All-American" has succeeded on one takedown, in a WEC fight back in 2007. That's not even worth analyzing; it's pretty clear that Stann's game is not to take his opponent down.
Despite his absence of takedown attempts, Stann's opponents often find themselves laying on the mat, thanks to the Marine's big right hand. When he's on top of his opponent, he loves to posture up and throw bombs, diving into his opponent's guard with an elbow or punch.
Stann doesn't bother trying to control his opponent, he just tries to drill their head through the canvas.
More important than Stann's takedown attack is his ability to stay on his feet. While it isn't elite, Stann has a pretty solid defensive wrestling game. His defense greatly benefits from the fact that to get into position for a takedown, his opponent has to wade through his powerful punches, which some refuse to do, so they have to shoot from far out.
If his opponent shoots for a double-leg takedown, Stann will attempt to sprawl hard and escape his opponent's grasp. When his foe shoots for a single leg, Stann does his best to get to the cage and force his opponent to clinch with him.
Stann is very physically strong, which helps him avoid clinch takedowns and opens up his offense.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Stann has earned a blue belt in BJJ, but it is likely the weakest part of his game. He's pretty offensive from his back and shows composure when he's on the bottom, but his technique shows room for improvement.
Against Mike Massenzio, Stann earned the first (and only) submission of his career. Stann was out-wrestled early, but "The Master of Disaster" was fatiguing. By the third round, it was pretty clear that Massenzio didn't have much left in the tank.
After Stann reversed a takedown, the weary Massenzio still managed to sweep him, but ended up in a triangle choke. The "All American" seemed confused for a moment but eventually figured out that he should tighten his legs and after cranking the arm a bit, Stann got a good angle and finished the choke.
To see his lone submission win, click here.
Although it was a couple years ago, and Stann's submission game has most likely developed further, this finish wasn't the greatest. It was a good sign that he knew to go for the strangle, but it only worked because his opponent was dead tired and gave him plenty of time to attack.
Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen were both able to pass Stann's guard, and neither are submission specialists. In fact, Sonnen was actually able to finish the fight with an arm triangle choke. Stann needs to sure up these holes, especially against a jiu-jitsu black belt like his next opponent.
Stann is one of the hardest hitters in whatever division he decides to fight in. He's finished nine of his 12 victories via knockout, which is impressive, since a good number of those were above his natural weight class. When an opponent fights Stann, they have to be extremely cautious, because the "All American" can finish the fight with a single punch.
This fear opens up Stann's attack.
If his opponent is hesitant to exchange punches, Stann can come forward without any fear and throw with everything he's got. Even if his opponent blocks the punches, they still feel the impact, which hurts and scares them even more.
Furthermore, Stann's one shot power makes closing the distance for takedowns much more difficult. Against a power puncher like Stann, eating a few to get in close simply isn't an option. Jorge Santiago tried that, and all it got him was a visit to the hospital.
Best chance for success
While "The Axe Murderer" was once the most feared man in MMA, age seems to have caught up with him quite a bit. Stann would be smart to take advantage of this and has the power to do so.
The easiest plan for Stann is to go out there and throw bombs. Silva is a brawler at heart and will most likely oblige his request for a rumble. While Silva hits hard, Stann has a solid chin and hits just as hard. The difference is that Silva's chin is decaying, if not gone outright.
Leben brawled with Silva and knocked him out in less than 30 seconds, so Stann should be able to do the same.
Stann needs to avoid both the clinch and the ground. He is more than capable in the clinch, but Silva has some of the most brutal knees in the history of the sport, and Stann doesn't want to feel the wrath of old school Chute Boxe. Additionally, Silva is a legitimate black belt in jiu-jitsu and Stann doesn't have the skills to play around with the Brazilian on the mat, top or bottom.
Does Stann have the power to crush the PRIDE legend, or will Silva prove he still has quite a bit of fight left in him?