MMA: Brian Stann

Fight of the midyear: Grice-Bermudez

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
12:43
PM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
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The first adjective Matt Grice uses to describe that grueling, split-decision loss to Dennis Bermudez on Feb. 23 at UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif., is “fun.” Awesome time.

“One of the most fun fights I’ve ever been in,” Grice said. “Just competing with a person of that caliber. We’re all there to test ourselves, and I feel that fight tested me a lot -- my willingness to continue and keep going. To me, that’s fun.”

ESPN.com’s fight of the midyear was a landslide win for Grice and Bermudez. It’s a funny thing, “Fight of the nights.” Sometimes, stylistically, you can predict them. Oftentimes, however, they appear totally random -- as was the case with Grice and Bermudez.
[+] EnlargeDennis Bermudez
Ed Mulholland for ESPNDennis Bermudez, right, and Matt Grice took turns testing each other's chin for three full rounds.

Grice, for one, has no idea how to describe exactly what happens between two fighters that can turn a technical martial arts contest into a spirited brawl. He does know, however, that physical and mental endurance are involved.

“That definitely wasn’t in the game plan, you know?” Grice said. “Take a bunch of punches and give a bunch of punches. You just get in the zone."

Bermudez got full mount on Grice in the first minute of the fight. The two exhausted one another against the fence throughout, fighting for underhooks and throwing knees and punches to the body. It continued like that for the next 14 minutes.

One of the most incredible things about the fight was that both had enough left to stand and trade punches in the final minute. The pace of this featherweight bout was insane from the beginning.

Grice dropped Bermudez with a perfect left hook in the first round.

Bermudez’s corner told him, “We need this round, you’ve got to go for it,” as he came off his stool for the final round. Across the Octagon, Grice’s corner’s last words were, “Don’t stop. Don’t relax.”

“I think more than anything in that third round, it was survival tactic, Grice said. He hurt me right off the bat in that third round. Every time I would recover a little bit, he’d hit me with another one that would put me out. He was in great shape, too, because he threw a lot of punches in that last round.”

Grice appeared out on his feet at least three times in the final round.

“I looked up at the clock with 47 seconds left and thought, ‘Man, where did the rest of this round go?’” Grice said. “I came off the cage and hit him with a left hand and for the last 30 seconds or so we flurried.”

According to FightMetric.com, Bermudez landed 120 total strikes to Grice’s 82. It was, by far, the most times either had been hit in a UFC bout.

No. 2: Johny Hendricks UD3 Carlos Condit, UFC 158 (March 16). This was an angry Hendricks. The kind of Hendricks you get when you give away his title shot to a recently suspended welterweight, coming off a loss. Condit wasn’t backing down, though. Amazing fight.

No. 3: Wanderlei Silva KO2 Brian Stann, UFC on Fuel 8 (March 2). Stann may have been able to play this safe and gone after Silva late -- but we’ll never know because he chose to do the opposite. One would have thought Stann’s chin would have held up better than Silva’s, but that wasn’t the case, as it was the Axe Murderer left standing after a firefight.

No. 4: Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate, TUF 16 Finale (April 13). Tate will give you a fight. She’s relentless and for two rounds, it worked against Cat Zingano. In the third, with a reality show and title shot on the line, Zingano delivered a highlight TKO.

No. 5: Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve, UFC on Fuel 8 (March 2). The weigh-in photo of these two ranks among the most comical in UFC history. The actual fight ranks among the best of the year. For Hunt to get inside that reach, chances were he’d have to absorb a little punishment along the way. That’s pretty much what happened, until Hunt delivered the walk-off home run shot.

Silva returns to Japan to face Stann

March, 1, 2013
3/01/13
12:57
PM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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Wanderlei SilvaSusumu Nagano for ESPNWanderlei Silva returns to Japan for the first time since his days with Pride more than 6 years ago.

The predominant story line heading into UFC's card this weekend has focused on Wanderlei Silva's Nippon homecoming. After all, the legendary Brazilian spent his best years mauling stud light heavyweights and hapless punching bags alike inside the Pride ring. Since he hasn't been back for fights since 2006, this is a fine angle to take so long as it's acknowledged that Silva, 36, is hardly the Axe Murderer he used to be.

In some ways Silva hasn't changed much from the man who ripped out hearts and shattered faces. This was Silva as Pride's first light heavyweight champion. This is the guy that predicts violent knockouts with a matter-of-factness. So, in case you weren't aware, he said he’ll finish American Brian Stann in the third round of their main event at Saitama Super Arena.

"I'm so proud to fight back here," Silva said Wednesday during a press conference promoting the Fuel TV card from Tokyo. "That stadium, Saitama, has given me some of the best moments in my career."

He's forgotten more about MMA than I'll ever know. He's done more for the sport in any two years than I've done in my career.

-- Brian Stann on Wanderlei Silva's career.
After going 27-3-1 from Nov. 1996 through Oct., 2004, Silva came back to the pack in a big way. He steps into the cage with Stann sporting a 32-12-1 record. If nothing else, and it's almost come down to that, the Brazilian icon remains, in bursts, fun to watch. Silva's last two contests earned money bonuses from the UFC for their frantic action.

"He's forgotten more about MMA than I'll ever know," Stann, 32, said of Silva. "He's done more for the sport in any two years than I've done in my career."

Stann and Silva fight Saturday at 205 pounds, the Brazilian's fighting weight during his best years as a pro. He hasn't campaigned there since Quinton Jackson knocked him out in the Octagon at the end of 2008. Silva admitted having a difficult time making 185, and catch-weight fights are in short supply in the UFC, so The Axe Murderer has bulked up, again, and he should be as wild as he can be against the 32-year-old decorated U.S. Marine.

"The popularity of my opponent, Wanderlei Silva, is very well deserved," said Stann (12-5). "I myself, when I first thought about coming into this sport, my favorite fighter was Wanderlei Silva. I would watch his fights in Pride and I would just marvel at the tenacity that he brought inside of the ring and how he fought. Not only that, but the way he treated other people and the way he conducted himself, I've always admired all of those qualities in him."

Like Stann, heavyweight Stefan Struve, who fights another Japanese mainstay, Mark Hunt, spoke in reverential terms.There’s no shortage of fighters and fans willing to speak similarly about Silva, remarkably a day away from the 49th bout of his career.

Make no mistake, Silva is not the fighter he once was. There was a time when pressure and pace were Silva’s closest allies. One way or another he was going to overwhelm the man opposite him. Silva was so dominant his coach at the time, Chute Boxe maestro Rudimar Fedrigo, famously promised Silva would remain unbeaten for 10 years and retain the Pride title the entire time. Silva lasted about half of that. Technically he held onto the title for six years, though he lost non-title bouts prior to getting knocked out by Dan Henderson in 2007 and was clearly slipping. That crystalized when he entered the Octagon.

Since returning to the UFC for the first time since losing to Tito Ortiz in 2000, Silva is 3-5 in the Octagon. He’s only 1-5 against American fighters, though, and they don’t get much more American than Stann, who agreed to move up 20 pounds to fight Silva at 205.

“I would watch his fights in Pride and I would just marvel at the tenacity that he brought inside of the ring and how he fought,” Stann said of Silva. “Not only that, but the way he treated other people and the way he conducted himself, I've always admired all of those qualities in him."

That was when Silva burned like a flare. Now he may very well just be burned out. There won’t be any conjecture about that, unfortunately. Silva has all the markings of a fighter that won’t know when it’s time to walk away. He loves the show, like he always has. He’s not a UFC lifer, so don’t expect much lobbying from the promotion to leave fighting behind. Or a job to walk into when it’s all done.

There was so much more to Silva than what we’ve seen from him the past few years, which is why Stann and Struve and others regard The Axe Murderer the way they do.

Speaking about his return to Japan, Silva confirmed that fighting there again means a great deal to him. Indeed. Memories run deep.

UFC on Fuel 8 by the numbers

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
6:35
AM ET
By Andrew R. Davis
ESPN Stats & Information
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Wanderlei SilvaJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesWanderlei Silva has struggled against American opponents since 2007.

UFC on Fuel TV 8 takes place from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan this Saturday, the sixth time the UFC has traveled to the “Land of the Rising Sun.” The main event sees Wanderlei Silva battle Brian Stann at light heavyweight while Stefan Struve takes on Mark Hunt in a heavyweight bout. Here are the numbers you need to know for Saturday’s fights:

6: Fights Silva has had against an American fighter since his return to the UFC in 2007. He is 1-5 in those bouts, losing his past four (Rich Franklin twice, Chris Leben and Quinton Jackson). “The All-American” has fought just one Brazilian fighter in his career, defeating Jorge Santiago at UFC 130.

Wanderlei Silva, UFC Career vs. American Fighters:
UFC 147 Rich Franklin L, UD
UFC 132 Chris Leben L, KO
UFC 99 Rich Franklin L, UD
UFC 92 Quinton Jackson L, KO
UFC 84 Keith Jardine W, KO
UFC 79 Chuck Liddell L, UD

6: Times Silva has been defeated by KO or TKO in his 48-fight career. Four of those knockouts have come inside the UFC Octagon, while the other two were his last two PRIDE fights against Dan Henderson and Mirko Filipovic. The "Cro-Cop" fight was the last time Silva fought in Japan, which served as the home for PRIDE organization. Stann has nine KO/TKO wins in 17 career fights.

75: Percent of wins by "The Axe Murderer" that have come by KO or TKO (24 of 32). When Silva defeated Michael Bisping at UFC 110 by unanimous decision, it marked his first win not by KO or TKO since November 2003 at PRIDE: Final Conflict.

3: The combined takedowns by both fighters in their UFC careers (Silva 2, Stann 1). Each fighter attempts less than one takedown and one submission attempt per 15 minutes. In other words, it would be shocking to see this fight go to the ground unless one of the fighters gets knocked down.

2010: The last time former WEC light heavyweight champion Stann fought at 205 pounds, where he is 8-3 in his career. Stann will be dropping back to middleweight after this fight with Silva, where he holds a 4-2 record.

9: The reach advantage for 7-footer Stefan Struve in his co-main event bout against 5-foot-10 Mark Hunt. Struve’s reach is 83 inches while Hunt has a 74-inch reach. The 83-inch reach for Struve is second behind Jon Jones (84.5 inches) for longest reach in the UFC.

9: Wins for Struve inside the UFC Octagon, tied with Junior dos Santos, Gabriel Gonzaga and heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for third among active heavyweights. With a win, he would join Frank Mir, Cheick Kongo, Andrei Arlovski and Randy Couture as the only UFC fighters with double-digit wins in the division.

Most UFC Wins, Active Heavyweight Fighters:
Frank Mir 14
Cheick Kongo 11
Cain Velasquez 9
Junior dos Santos 9
Gabriel Gonzaga 9
Stefan Struve 9*
*Four-fight win streak

3.9: Submissions attempted per 15 minutes for "The Skyscraper," fifth highest in UFC history and first among heavyweights. "The Super Samoan" has six submission defeats in seven career losses, all arm-related (three by armbar, two by kimura, one by keylock). Of Struve’s 16 submission victories, only three are by armbar (13 submissions by choke).

2: The main and co-main events are the only fights on the card not to feature a fighter from Japan or South Korea. There are nine Asia versus The World contests on the card. Japan is represented by Takanori Gomi, Yushin Okami, Mizuto Hirota, Riki Fukuda, Takeya Mizugaki, and Kazuki Tokudome. The South Koreans are represented in three matchups by Dong Hyun Kim, Kyung Ho Kang and Hyun Gyu Lim.

Brian Stann starting over in 2013

February, 27, 2013
2/27/13
6:38
AM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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StannDave Mandel for Sherdog.com Despite personal issues outside the Octagon, Brian Stann is eager to forge ahead.

The self-assured demeanor and authoritative sound of his voice have returned. They are solid indicators that Brian Stann is close to being his old self again -- personally and professionally.

For more than a year, Stann has been rebounding from a family tragedy.

His brother-in-law, Louie Rusti Jr., passed away on Dec. 23, 2011. Since that time, the overwhelming majority of Stann’s focus has been on helping his wife and mother-in-law recover. It’s been a very difficult period, emotionally, for Stann and his family -- losing a close family member is never easy. They haven’t fully recovered from Rusti’s passing, and possibly never will, but progress has been made.

Each day, life in the Stann household shows more signs of returning to normalcy. There’s a lot of laughter again, daughters Alexandra and DeAnna keep the fun flowing. Their youthful innocence and playfulness is contagious throughout the home.

Another factor that has helped this family steadily put the pieces back together is Stann’s decision not to leave for an extended period.

I plan to go undefeated this year. I plan to fight three times and I plan to win all three fights and I plan to finish all three fights. I take it very seriously that UFC put me in a main event. I take a lot of pride in that.

-- Brian Stann on his plans for 2013.

Rather than spend two months in Albuquerque, N.M., at Jackson’s/Winkeljohn’s gym preparing for fights, Stann has conducted each of his past three training camps in Atlanta. It’s the best decision this dedicated soon-to-be-father-of-three could have made.

“The biggest thing is when you’re not able to be a father; you’re missing moments in time with your young children that you will never get back again,” Stann told ESPN.com. “It’s a big distraction.

“That would hurt me when I was in New Mexico [training at Jackson’s]. It made me question whether I was choosing the right thing. Was I being selfish?

“Fighting pays me well, but there are other things I can do and be with my kids every day. I have a 5-year-old [Alexandra], a 3-year-old [DeAnna] and my wife [Teresa] is pregnant with our third child. I can’t go for two months and live in another city to train for a fight. I can’t be that selfish.

“I needed to make this [training in Atlanta] happen because, above all else, my No. 1 job in the world is being a father.”

But Stann, who once held the rank of captain in the United States Marine Corps, also is a professional mixed martial artist. And he isn’t the type of guy who cuts corners. Stann’s prefight preparation in Atlanta is just as strenuous, if not more, than those he went through at Jackson’s. Extensive stand-up, grappling and jiu-jitsu sessions are still on the docket.

As has been the case for a while, wrestling techniques get extra special attention. Stann is always looking to improve his wrestling.

A lot of progress was made in each of the previous two training camps. Fighters and coaches traveled from Albuquerque to Atlanta last year to help Stann prepare for fights against Alessio Sakara and Michael Bisping. He won the first with an opening-round knockout, lost the latter by unanimous decision.

But this latest Atlanta-based training camp has been his best. Stann is feeling great. The fire within burns as hot as ever, and he is ready to apply some heat Saturday night to hard-hitting veteran Wanderlei Silva during their UFC on Fuel TV 8 main-event showdown in Saitama, Japan.

The two middleweights will compete at light heavyweight. Both are former 205-pound champions -- Silva in Pride, Stann with WEC.

But Stann makes it clear that he does not intend to exit the 185-pound ranks. This fight against Silva at 205 is a one-shot deal.

“This is a middleweight fight in my eyes,” Stann said. “We made an agreement to ‘let’s just not cut the weight.’

“I didn’t pack on any extra pounds. I don’t have a weight issue; I don’t have a strength issue; I don’t have a power issue. It’s more important to be fast against Wanderlei than it is to be bigger.”

Mourning the death of his brother-in-law hasn’t fully dissipated, but Stann has come a long way since December 2011. So much so that he sounds like his pre-2012 self. The fight with Silva is part of a larger plan. The 32-year-old wants to be more active this year and continue participating in high-profile bouts. Getting rid of Silva in exciting fashion is the first step in that direction.

“A finish in this fight will definitely get me another fight against a significant middleweight, a top-10 ranked middleweight,” said Stann, who will compete on foreign soil for the third time in a row Saturday night. “That’s important to me.

“I want to go out there and dominate; I want to finish this fight. Everything in 2012 is behind me, now I can focus on what I can do.

“I plan to go undefeated this year. I plan to fight three times and I plan to win all three fights and I plan to finish all three fights. I take it very seriously that UFC put me in a main event. I take a lot of pride in that.

“I want to be a guy who is always considered for that part of the card, whether it’s the co-main event or main event; that’s why this is a big fight for me.”

Wanderlei-Stann headlines Japan event

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
8:38
AM ET
By Ben Blackmore
ESPN.co.uk
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Wanderlei Silva versus Brian Stann will headline the UFC's return to Japan as "The Axe Murderer" heads back to Pride territory. More »

Bisping strengthens title shot case with jab

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
11:38
AM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Stann/BispingEd Mulholland for ESPN.comChew on this: Brian Stann received a lesson in the boxing department Saturday.
After waiting one round and tasting a hard right hand from Brian Stann that briefly made his legs wobble, Michael Bisping finally unleashed a weapon that could catapult him into a much-coveted middleweight title bout.

In the second round of their fight at UFC 152, Bisping pulled out a right jab that altered the course of the bout.

Bisping entered as the superior standup fighter, though Stann possessed far greater punching power. But Bisping was expected to survive Stann’s physical strength with head and foot movement, and he did that for much of the opening stanza to avoid disaster. Bisping, however, could not hit his takedown attempts smoothly. It was as if Stann easily anticipated each one.

Then the jab came into play. And with that, Bisping was able to get Stann to the ground numerous times.

“More than his takedowns, it was his boxing,” Stann said after being on the short end of a 29-28 across-the-board unanimous decision. “The boxing will set up your takedowns, and that’s what he did a lot deep in the second round.”

To be more specific, it was Bisping’s jab that changed the complexion of the fight. Once the jab got going, Bisping snapped Stann’s head back several times in the final two rounds and got into a rhythm that helped him set up his takedowns. As a result, Stann was forced to become more defense-minded.

A fight that began as a closely contested event had shifted in favor of Bisping. And Bisping attributes the turnaround to his jab, which is among the best in MMA.

“The jab is one of the most underutilized things in MMA,” Bisping told ESPN.com. “It opens the doors to everything. I’m left-handed, so I have a very good jab. I have one of the most powerful jabs.”

By defeating one of the best middleweights on UFC’s roster, Bisping can turn his full attention to securing a 185-pound title shot.

Count Stann among a growing group that believes Bisping deserves to get the next shot at Anderson Silva.

“He’s a great fighter,” Stann said of Bisping. “He’s exactly what I expected; I knew what I was getting into. He’s the top one or two guys in the division, one, two or three -- whoever you want to throw in there. I have him at No. 2 behind Anderson Silva.”

Stann might get an argument or two from supporters of Chris Weidman. But Bisping’s backers can point to the hard, accurate jab used on Sept. 22 in Toronto as proof their guy has the best chance of pulling off the unimaginable -- dethroning Silva.

Quick thoughts ahead of UFC 152

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
6:14
AM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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With Jon Jones anticipating confusion because of the dehydration and hunger that stem from weight-cutting, it made him wonder what kind of conversation he’ll share Friday with UFC president Dana White. That’s when the UFC light heavyweight champion said the pair are set for their first tête-à-tête after the dustup surrounding UFC 151.

I’m curious about that, too. It also makes me wonder -- more question, really -- whether the conversation is appropriate at all, considering the young champion has the serious task of making 205 pounds in front of him.

I asked Malki Kawa, Jones’ manager, who was responsible for making the meeting in the midst of the worst part of a fighter’s prep. He declined to answer. Jones didn’t sound too pleased Thursday during the prefight newser, which was notable in part for White’s absence, so I’m betting it wasn’t his call.

I don’t have the first clue if White didn’t make the media session to avoid drama with Jones. UFC officials claimed traffic was a problem, yet the apps that focus on that sort of stuff suggested differently. Regardless, if White wasn’t there in order to avoid drama Thursday, then he should skip Friday’s session, too.

Doesn’t this seem like something that could wait?

Jones didn’t recede from his positions about UFC 151. In fact, he continued to push back on the notion that the cancellation was his fault. He told the fighters who are upset with him to aim their anger at UFC executives. And he dismissed the concept that he had anything for which to apologize. Still, Jones did talk forgiveness, kindly absolving White of the insults the promoter threw in his direction. Think White will thank Jones for the consideration?

The light heavyweight champion should know that kind of talk won’t help, even if he praised his promoter at times and said he hoped to move forward. But so what? Jones is looking out for himself, which he can’t be blamed for.

His loss is no sweat off Zuffa’s back, Jones said. The promotion keeps churning.

Serra’s upset still would be bigger

Georges St. Pierre vs Matt SerraChris Cozzone/FightWireImages Matt Serra's KO of Georges St. Pierre still would be MMA's No. 1 upset no matter what goes down Saturday.

People who think about MMA a lot, people like Dutch trainer and retired fighter Martijn de Jong, aren't giving Vitor Belfort a shot in hell of defeating Jones.

So it's understandable that an upset would rank among the sport's most improbable results. If -- if -- something incredible happens, the easy comparison to make would be Matt Serra clocking George St. Pierre in 2007. I don't think it works.

Serra had never knocked anyone out before. He'd never shown the power to do that. Everyone knows how dangerous Belfort is. He's among the best finishers this sport has ever seen. St. Pierre walked into the fight with Serra believing he didn't face a threat. Jones won't.

Serra needed 14 fights and nine years to score his first knockout. Belfort needed 12 seconds when he bounced John Hess' head like a basketball that October 1996 night in Honolulu. If anything, St. Pierre needed to be wary of Serra's Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Five of Serra's first six wins came by some sort of submission. Belfort does that too, of course. But armbars aren't the reason why some fans will always pine for the "old Vitor" -- the one whose seventh fight earned his fifth first-round KO by chain-punching Wanderlei Silva in Brazil 14 years ago.

Belfort is capable of anything; he always has been. But he really shouldn't beat Jones. He's never done well against fighters who establish top control. His guard isn't all that active, so he tends to stay stuck on the bottom. Against Jones that means elbows, which is bad news. But we know, and Jones knows, that Belfort is inherently dangerous, so if the champ goes down, it can't be that big a surprise.

Bisping the button pusher

Michael BispingJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesCheers to that: Michael Bisping deserves an award for the way he gets inside an opponent's head.

I joined Greg Delong’s radio show "Inside The Cage" Thursday to talk UFC 152. Serendipitously, Michael Bisping ran a little late and thusly called while I was hanging around on the phone.

A couple of hours earlier, Bisping stuck his forehead into Brian Stann’s while the pair posed after the final session with the media until fight night. According to everyone in Toronto, including ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto, Stann was furious. "P---ed," Okamoto tweeted.

When I asked Bisping about what happened, he said he hadn’t seen Stann turn red-faced after hearing the Englishman call him a "beaten man."

So I told Bisping that Stann wasn’t very happy about it all.

"Well, unlucky for him," Bisping replied about the Silver Star-winning Marine Corps captain. "We're going to punch each other in the face, so if he has a problem with me squaring up and getting a little close to him, he's going to have a massive [inaudible] when I stick my fist in his face. Listen, if it takes that to upset the man, perhaps he needs to enlist back into the Army because this ain't for him."

The inaudible phrase sounded like "bolten attack" or possibly "heart attack," but either way, the point was made.

The concept of an angry Stann has some people frothing at the mouth. Not Bisping, though. He’s calm, ready, willing and knows what’s in front of him. Or at least what he perceives to be in front of him.

"I looked at him [in the eyes] and thought that he was a beaten man," Bisping said. "And he was off the stage."

Bisping commands the respect of Jones

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
6:14
AM ET
By Ben Blackmore
ESPN.co.uk
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Jon Jones will watch his teammate Brian Stann take on Michael Bisping at UFC 152 this weekend, insisting Bisping has "all my respect" despite a recent light-hearted dig he received from the Brit. More »

Bisping labels Stann as intimidated

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
6:53
AM ET
By Ben Blackmore
ESPN.co.uk
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Michael Bisping is convinced Brian Stann is feeling intimidated ahead Saturday's UFC 152 showdown -- and the Brit says he has every right to be. More »

Stann not buying Bisping's stand-up pitch

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
7:26
AM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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After listening to middleweight contender Michael Bisping repeatedly express his intention of standing toe-to-toe with Brian Stann in Toronto, just about everyone is convinced he will stay true to his word.

“I have the advantage,” Bisping told ESPN.com. “He has some punching power, but that’s it. I’m a way better boxer and a way better kickboxer. I’m faster, have better head movement and better foot movement.

“I recognize that he’s knocked some people out, but I have a good chin. I’ve been stopped just once in my career by Dan Henderson, and there’s no shame in that.”

With Bisping putting it so strongly, can anyone expect him not to fight Stann on the feet Saturday night at UFC 152? One man isn’t ready to fully take Bisping at his word. And that man would be Stann.

The former WEC light heavyweight champion respects Bisping’s striking skills and self-confidence, but he gives more credence to his opponent’s intelligence.

“I welcome him standing with me and trading shots,” Stann told ESPN.com. “That’s an area where it’s always been one of my best opportunities to win fights.

“But I don’t think that’s exactly what he is going to do. He'll use his footwork. He’s not a pocket-puncher-type of guy. He’s a stick-and-move-type of guy.”

Trading strikes with Stann inside the cage has been proven to be a disastrous strategy. Stann, who is powerful and displays exceptional stand-up technique, also has a very sturdy chin, which he often invites opponents to test.
[+] EnlargeStann
Martin McNeil for ESPN.comAlessio Sakara, left, learned firsthand the dangers of trading with Brian Stann.

The invitation is difficult to resist, and fighters who have given in to that temptation have paid a hefty price. Nine of Stann’s 12 wins have come by knockout.

Stann’s devastating punching power was on display in his most recent bout, when he needed slightly less than 2½ minutes to knock out Alessio Sakara in April.

Yet Bisping remains eager to take the bait.

“I stand with every one of my opponents, so why should Brian Stann be any different?” Bisping said. “He’s the one coming into the lion’s den with me. We’ll see what happens.”

In a few more days everyone will learn whether Bisping is playing coy. But on further thought, it might not be Bisping who is taking everyone for a ride. The more Stann responds to Bisping’s stand-up comments, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern if he isn’t the one pulling our legs.

After spending a good amount of time saying he welcomes a stand-up war, Stann tossed in this enticing tidbit: “I’m not expecting Michael to go out there and get into a kickboxing match with me. Mike’s going to try to mix it up, and that’s fine with me, too.

“I’m very excited to surprise him in the other realms of mixed martial arts. I feel he’s underestimating me in my other skills and that’s fine; I’m not going to tell him how good I am, I’m going to show him.”

I stand with every one of my opponents, so why should Brian Stann be any different? He's the one coming into the lion's den with me. We'll see what happens.

-- Michael Bisping, on striking with the heavy-handed Brian Stann

Despite his relatively busy fight schedule, Stann has spent additional time in the gym improving on all non-standing aspects of his game. He has fought four times since 2011, and none of those bouts have gone more than two rounds.

Aside from an injury to his right shoulder that knocked him out of a fight against former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard in July, Stann has avoided the injury bug.

Staying healthy, active and getting out of the cage quickly has put Stann in a comfortable rhythm heading into Saturday night. It’s an advantage he expects to to come in handy against Bisping.

“That’s pretty common for me,” Stann said. “I have a lot of one-round performances. The layoff’s bigger for Mike. He’s been really spread out.

“He had a long layoff before he fought [Jason] ‘Mayhem’ Miller. And he had a decent layoff until he fought Chael Sonnen, and now he’s coming off another big layoff.

“For me it’s not about how long your fight is, it’s about going through the whole training camp, going through the actual fight and the events the week of the fight. That’s what keeps you in a rhythm. It’s not about how long the fight actually lasts in the Octagon. I’m in that rhythm. I’ve been fighting frequently -- three times a year. I don’t feel any rust; I'll be ready to go.”

That said, Bisping remains unmoved. More than proving that he is the better stand-up fighter, it is the stench of a disputed unanimous decision loss to Sonnen on Jan. 28 that fuels Bisping. The setback cost him a 185-pound title shot, and Bisping is determined not to be denied again.

“I want to put this guy away; I want to make an example of him,” Bisping said. “I have nothing against Brian Stann, but I want to send the message out that I’m the No. 1 middleweight contender. I’m going to put a beating on this guy. I’m not leaving it to the judges and get robbed again.

“I’m very confident I can put this guy away within three rounds. I’m predicting a second-round knockout or TKO. And I’m going for it 100 percent.”

Bisping balks at Weidman, backs Boetsch

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
8:01
PM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
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Michael BispingAl Powers for ESPN.comSpeak your mind: Michael Bisping isn't biting his tongue when it comes to his feelings on Chris Weidman.

LAS VEGAS -- Michael Bisping isn’t about to get into an argument with UFC brass about whether Chris Weidman deserves to be its No. 1 middleweight contender.

He’ll argue with just about everybody else about it, though.

The British middleweight is all set to meet Brian Stann on the main card of next week’s UFC 152 card in Toronto. It’s a big fight in the 185-pound division, but it doesn’t appear as though a title shot is in the cards for Bisping, regardless of the outcome.

For now, Bisping’s status remains behind the undefeated, 28-year-old Weidman -- and that’s where his objections begin. In his mind, how does a decision win over Demian Maia and landing one elbow on a “fat Mark Munoz” outweigh what he’s accomplished?

“He’s got an undefeated streak going and that’s great,” Bisping said. “Dana [White] is the president of the company and far be it from to disagree with him. But I don’t think [Chris] is the [No. 1 contender].

“You elbow a fat Mark Munoz and all of a sudden you’re the great white hope ... hype ... the great white whatever?”

It’s possible that none of the current rankings in the middleweight division matter anyway. Champ Anderson Silva is scheduled to meet Stephan Bonnar in a non-title light heavyweight bout in October and possibly, if the stars align, take on 170-pound champion Georges St. Pierre in 2013.
[+] EnlargeChris Weidman
AP Photo/Jeff ChiuChris Weidman's performance against Mark Munoz hardly impressed Michael Bisping.

If that’s the case, Bisping is prepared to fight again anyway as he waits for Silva to finally defend his title. If that ends up being against Weidman, perfect.

“You look at the skills and say that I could box his f---ing head off as well,” Bisping said, when asked on how he’d match Weidman’s grappling skills. “Certainly I’ve got better wrestling than he has boxing.

“I train with professional boxers. I could have a career in professional boxing no problem. F--- it. If I wanted to be a professional wrestler I could be a wrestler.”

Bisping (22-4), who, along with Chris Leben, remains only one of two fighters to record 12 wins inside the Octagon and never earn a title shot, says his full focus is on Stann next week -- but that didn’t stop him from suggesting he’s not sure if Weidman’s undefeated record will still be intact by the time he’d fight him.

Weidman (9-0) has agreed to fight Tim Boetsch later this year at UFC 155 in Las Vegas. After training for Boetsch himself this summer, Bisping believes that could be a tough stylistic fight for Weidman.

“He may just come up short against Boetsch,” Bisping said. “I think Boetsch might be a tough matchup for him. Boetsch is a big strong boy. He might not be the most technical of guys, but he’s durable and not to be written off. When I was supposed to fight him, I was looking at it as a dangerous fight.”

Stann, Weidman, Boetsch, whoever -- it’s all still stepping stones to a fight with Silva.

It’s somewhat hard to believe Bisping has spent six years with the UFC and still never once ran into the pound-for-pound great. He’s intent on fixing that before time runs out.

“It’s not like I’m obsessed with him, but Anderson is going to down as one of the greatest fighters ever,” Bisping said.

“In 20 to 30 years, when I’m an old man with my grandkids or sitting at a bar talking about Anderson Silva -- for me to say I went 10 years in the organization side by side with him and never fought him would be disappointing to say the least. A robbery. Not to fight him would be a failed career.”
Michael Bisping has been amused by Brian Stann's claims that his chin is suspect heading into their UFC 152 showdown, pointing out that the American has hardly built a granite reputation of his own. More »

Stann: Bisping fight might not last long

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
9:00
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By Ben Blackmore
ESPN.com
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Brian Stann has predicted his clash with Michael Bisping is unlikely to last long at UFC 152, although he rates the Brit as "one of the biggest stars in the UFC." More »

It's destiny calling for Chris Weidman

August, 17, 2012
8/17/12
11:21
AM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Chris WeidmanJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesHold tight: Chris Weidman feels his name is at or near the top of the list for next on Anderson Silva.
As far as UFC middleweight contender Chris Weidman is concerned it’s a matter of when, not if, he will be in the Octagon opposite champion Anderson Silva. And when that moment arrives, Weidman believes his destiny will be realized. Weidman is so confident he’ll unseat Silva that he is willing to wait for the champ to end his hiatus.

Silva decided recently to sit out the remainder of 2012. A date hasn’t been scheduled for his 2013 debut, nor has a challenger been revealed.

There are a few fighters who are clearly on the short list of potential challengers -- welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, middleweight contender Michael Bisping (if he gets past Brian Stann next month in Toronto) and, of course, Weidman.

Weidman won’t do anything silly, like staying inactive for too long a period. He knows his turn is coming and he intends to seize the moment.

“I’m waiting to talk to [UFC president] Dana White and learn what they want me to do,” the 28-year-old Weidman told ESPN.com. “I’m down to do whatever they want.

“The second they tell me to worry about someone else I will. But as far as I’m concerned it’s all about Anderson Silva right now. I’m young. I’m not going to sit out and waste my youth.”

Every one of Weidman's accomplishments inside the Octagon -- including a 9-0 record and defeating each man the UFC has put in front of him -- has been a dress rehearsal for his eventual 185-pound title bout.

The only thing Silva can do to prevent this young lion from possibly dethroning him is avoid a fight -- and ducking isn't in Silva’s DNA.

They will fight eventually and Weidman pictures his hand being raised when it is over. And to all the naysayers, Weidman’s already heard from those who have dismissed his chances.

“I’ve been thinking about this fight for three years,” Weidman said. “When anyone would ask me which weight class I plan to compete in, I’d say 185. They’d say, ‘my god, isn’t that Anderson Silva’s weight class? You’re going to get killed. You better switch weight classes now.’ That's what motivated me.”

I've been thinking about this fight for three years. When anyone would ask me which weight class I plan to compete in, I'd say 185. They'd say, 'my god, isn't that Anderson Silva's weight class? You're going to get killed. You better switch weight classes now.' That's what motivated me.

-- Chris Weidman, on finding motivation from his naysayers

Based on what Weidman has shown inside the Octagon nobody can reasonably question his physical ability or that he poses a threat to Silva. What some might attempt to bring up instead is the limited number of fights he’s had under the Zuffa banner.

But Weidman has this strong response: “Anderson had one fight [in the UFC] when he got his title shot. He beat Chris Leben.

“Mark Munoz knocked out the last guy he beat [Leben] before I knocked him out. I’ve beaten more top-10 guys than [Silva] beat when he fought for the title. I know where I’m at, there’s no reason to wait.

“I have five [UFC] wins in a row. I know I only have nine fights but they’ve all been against tough guys. I’m definitely ready. I got up here pretty fast, and I’m ready to finally get him. Obviously I want to defeat him and take the belt.”

And unlike previous challengers to Silva’s crown, Weidman won’t be at a disadvantage anywhere in the cage.

“I’m definitely confident in myself,” Weidman said. “I’m a bigger guy. I pose a lot of threats to Anderson Silva.

“He hasn’t seen a guy like me before -- my athletic ability, my wrestling, my jiu-jitsu, my size and my length. In all categories he hasn’t seen an athlete like me.”

Now don’t get it twisted, Weidman respects Silva and what he’s amassed in his brilliant career. Weidman just knows that it’s his time to rule the middleweight division. It’s his destiny.

Bisping says he's been promised title shot

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
11:00
AM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
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CALGARY -- Should Michael Bisping take care of business against Brian Stann when the two meet at UFC 152 in September, he’ll finally get his long-awaited title shot.

At least, he says, that’s what he’s been unofficially told.

“I’ve been told if I beat him -- and beat him well -- I’ll get a title shot,” Bisping said. “But I haven’t gotten it in writing, so it probably doesn’t mean anything.”

The UFC is expected to make several fight announcements Saturday in regard to its 185-pound division. One will almost certainly include newcomer Hector Lombard, depending on how he fares against Tim Boetsch at UFC 149.

Should the UFC elect to place Lombard into a title fight against Anderson Silva, despite holding just one win in the promotion, Bisping says he understands it from a business perspective but isn’t terribly optimistic on Lombard’s chances.

“People are saying he’s going to be next for Anderson Silva? Come on,” Bisping said. “There’s just no way he can fight Anderson Silva, because Silva’s game is to use range.

“I think it will be a terrible matchup for Hector Lombard. He’ll never get near him.”
[+] EnlargeMichael Bisping
Al Powers for ESPN.comMichael Bisping, top, is in full campaign mode in his quest for a title shot.

Despite coming off a loss in his most recent fight, Bisping (22-4) has built a case to compete for the title. The Brit is 4-1 in his last five and isn’t alone in his perception he actually edged Chael Sonnen when the two met earlier this year.

That said, Bisping says he takes full responsibility for the fact he’s gone six years in the UFC with no title shot. Key losses to Dan Henderson in 2009 and the one to Sonnen have derailed previous title hopes.

If the UFC keeps its promise though to push him through to Silva after September, Bisping remains confident he’s up to the job.

Seeing the success Sonnen had in two fights with Silva was encouraging -- but really, Bisping says he’s seen holde in the champ’s game before.

“Every time I watch him fight, I think he always looks mortal if you will,” Bisping said. “He always looks beatable. That’s the good thing about a champion: they find a way to win. Regardless of how bad the fight goes, how it ends is the important thing.

“Anderson always comes out the winner. My hat is off to him, but I see holes in his game.”

If or when Bisping does secure his first title shot, he admits he doesn’t envision it taking place in England, unfortunately.

“Zero,” answered Bisping, on his chances of talking the UFC into a title fight in his native country. “It would be my dream to fight in England but we don’t have the pay-per-view culture in England. It’s as simple as that.”

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