Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight contender Brian Stann is an American hero. He's also been considered one of the top talents in the entire 185-pound division for some time now. He was well on his way to a title shot when he ran into his close friend, Chael Sonnen, when he suffered a painful loss at UFC 136, in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 8, 2011.
Stann will finally get a chance to redeem himself when he takes on Alessio Sakara at UFC on FUEL TV 2, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sat., Apr. 14, 2012.
The match up is an interesting one, stylistically, as Sakara's background is based largely around boxing. A stand up brawl between the two would certainly make for some fireworks, but Stann doesn't believe that's the way this fight is going to go down.
During an interview with FUEL TV's "UFC Tonight," Stann talked about what he believes to be a superior striking game:
"If we go toe-to-toe in this fight, I believe I have the advantage. I feel I have more power than anyone in the middleweight division, and I'm happy to prove that in any fight. I think we haven't seen Alessio Sakara particularly go toe-to-toe, in several fights. I think he's tried that. It hasn't necessarily been successful for him. I think we're gonna see more of a mobile and moving, elusive, fast Alessio Sakara. That's what I plan on seeing."
The man makes a good point.
Stann's fight at UFC on FUEL TV 2 will be the first time he's ever fought overseas. In fact, nine of his 15 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) contests have been fought in Las Vegas, Nevada.
No big deal, right?
"You know, it's a huge honor. I was really excited, at first. I've never been to that part of the world. The fact that the event sold out so quickly, and just my own personal Twitter from some of the Swedish fans...I'm really excited. I think this is gonna be a huge night over there. I think Stockholm's really gonna show out, and it's gonna be my first experience truly fighting overseas. I don't think about the travel time and time change. The more you think about it, and if you allow it to be a big deal, it becomes a big deal. For me, I'm gonna get over there. I'm gonna train to the time that I plan on fighting and make sure that I acclimate to that time, and I think everything's gonna be fine."
It's hard to say where a win over Sakara would put Stann. Before his loss to Sonnen, Stann was right "in the mix." He's aware that winning his next fight won't get him a title shot. He also knows just eeking out a victory won't be good enough:
"I think a win -- a finish -- put's me right back where I was; back on the ladder, climbing towards a title shot. Hopefully, I'll only be two or three fights away from one after a win over Alessio."
It can be dangerous to look past an opponent. Especially when that opponent is man who possesses nine knockout wins on his resume.
Stann is taking this fight seriously, but if he's being honest, he has thought about what the future would hold for him, if he is able to decisively finish Sakara:
"I haven't thought about who I fight after this fight, to be honest. I know that this is an important fight for me. Alessio's coming off a little bit of a break, due to surgery. He's coming off a loss. This is a big fight to me. I haven't looked past it. But, beat Alessio Sakara, get a finish in this fight, that's what I wanna do, and I want a 'Top Five' guy. I wanna get back towards a title run."
Would a clear-cut win over Sakara put Stann right back where he was before his loss to Sonnen? How far away is he from being back in title contention?
Here's the full video of Stann's interview with "UFC Tonight:"
For a closer look at Brian Stann vs. Alessio Sakara at UFC on FUEL TV 2 click here.