Michael Bisping (22-4, MMA) vs Brian Stann (12-4, MMA) is definitely a fight that can determine a top contender who’s name continues to rise in the ranks of the heavily competitive UFC middleweight division. Stann’s name has become synonymous with knockout finishes. In the beginning of his career, he went 6-0 ending each fight with a first round knockouts. In his upcoming fight on September 22nd at UFC 152 in Toronto, Canada’s Air Canada Centre, he’s coming back from an injured shoulder that kept him from fighting Hector Lombard at UFC on FOX 4 and will be looking to upset Bisping’s chances of getting one step closer to UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva.
Though no longer the co-main event, Stann isn’t worried about being the third fight on the card. Instead the brawler’s looking to outclass Bisping and make the most of the fight. “I expect a good tough fight. He trains hard, he’s professional. I train hard. So, I think with a couple of the fights that got moved from 151 over, I think it’s become a really stacked card. I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to get a good victory and have a lot of people watching the fight.”
Despite Bisping saying he plans to finish Stann, Stann has plans of his own to stop Bisping. In his 12 MMA wins, Stann has finished 10 of his opponents. “I always look for the finish, so it has nothing really to do with Michael, but that’s just my style of fighting. I’m going to go for the finish and sometimes in doing that it causes you to make mistakes and maybe get caught yourself, but I train to improve on those areas and not have that happen. I don’t go out there just to win by decision. I always look for the finish.”
On August 4th, Stann was set to welcome highly touted prospect, Hector Lombard to the UFC. Instead, he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the fight. Since then, Stann has allowed himself to fully recover and said that the injury won’t hinder him by time he steps into the Octagon. “It’s great, now it’s fully recovered now. In the beginning of my camp, it certainly wasn’t. There were still things that I had a couple of teams of doctors working on to keep me training hard. This is part of the game. The injury I sustained was a 6 to 8 week recovery. It took me all 8 weeks to recover before I could start grappling or wrestling again and even then, when I started to doing those things, I had to do them light just because it was still bothering me and the last thing I wanted to do was re-injure it and pull out of another fight.”
Stann says now he’s ready to make a statement and show the MMA world how improved, healthy and ready he is. He’s also hoping to prove that he stands more than just a “punchers chance” and is a well-rounded fighter. “Mike Massenzio’s a black belt in jiu jitsu and I submitted him. Those opinions are solely due to my Chael Sonnen fight. When I fought Mike Massenzio, that was on the undercard and a lot of people weren’t able to see that fight. After that, I fought Chris Leben and George Santiago, but those fights didn’t go to the ground unless I knocked them down. The Chael Sonnen fight, Chael makes a lot of people look bad on the ground,” Stann said of his only loss in his last five fights. “If you watch all of his fights – Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, Anderson – he has the ability to make a lot of people look bad. I didn’t look so hot against him in some areas and you know, it is what it is. Since then, I’ve gone to train with him several times and that fight will almost have been a year ago and I’ve made a lot of improvements there. It’s up to me to show the fans that I’m a well-rounded fighter, not tell them I’m a well rounded fighter. And so, I plan to do that come September 22nd.”
He continued to elaborate on what he’s learned from Chael since training with him in preparation for Bisping. Following his loss to Chael, Stann said he also helped Chael prepare for his UFC 148 rematch against Anderson Silva. “Me and Chael have always been friends and the other side of it obviously was to validate and verify the training that I’ve gone through since we fought. I knew that there were certain areas of my game that were good, but needed to be elite, where Chael was elite. Chael got an elite top game and elite level wrestling. I brought people in that I feel are some of the best in the world in those areas and those are who I worked with to make sure I improved in all of those areas,” Stann said.
As far as the stacked middleweight division and where Stann sees himself in the mix, he said he’s on top of his game right now. “I can beat anybody and I think that’s the case for all of us. I think when you take all the contenders that are in the mix right now, the Weidmans, the Bispings, the Stanns, to Belcher, to Boestch, to Munoz, all those guys on the right night, we can all beat each other on the right night when we all fight at our best,” Stann stated. “I know I can fight anybody and I can fight with anybody and get my shot at the title, but it’s just gotta to be earned. I don’t think any of us are going to get a shot at Anderson Silva based on one performance. I think we’re literally going to have to clean out all the other contenders and that’s going to earn us the shot because Anderson is the greatest that ever fought.”
However, when it was pointed out to Stann that UFC President Dana White said yesterday at a media luncheon that he sees Chris Weidman as the number one contender and added that maybe a Bisping-Weidman fight would happen, Stann said he didn’t realize he was being that overlooked. “Wow, I didn’t know Dana said that. So, I absolutely feel I’m being overlooked. There can only be a Bisping-Weidman fight if Bisping gets past me. So, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m being overlooked at this point, I just didn’t know it was also by my boss.”
Stann explained to MMA Fight Corner that he hasn’t trained with Jackson’s MMA for his last two fights, instead he’s been working out of his own gym in Atlanta, Georgia for family reasons. But he did say that he’s had some of the fighters from Jackson’s at his camp to help him train and he’s kept in touch with several fighters at Jackson’s. He’s also aware of the fallout from UFC 151 and said that he thinks the badgering Greg Jackson’s MMA has taken in the past few weeks from White and others, is only fueling it’s fighters to do better.
“Any time a camp takes that as much heat as Jackson’s did from Dana, or anybody else for that matter for that event, it actually brings a camp closer. It doesn’t cause a lot of internal strife. It’s kind of upsetting for a 24-48 hour period and then what happens is ‘OK it’s payback time,’ they ban together through adversity and they get angry about it. If anything I think it’s made some of the fighters work that much harder because they were pretty upset with the comments.”
There’s no doubt when Stann gets in the Octagon at UFC 152, he’s also hoping to make this experience in Canada better than his first. “My first trip to Canada, I was very, very green in this sport. I had a good time in Montreal. I enjoyed the process of that fight, UFC 97, and it was my first fight. So obviously, in this one it’s much different circumstances and it’s been a long time since that UFC debut. So yea, I’m planning on a much different outcome.”