When UFC middleweight Brian Stann enters the Octagon at UFC on Fuel 2 he’ll do so under circumstances unlike any he’s dealt with in his career. Not only is the event in Sweden, a completely foreign environment to the former Marine, but Stann trained in his home-area rather than at Greg Jackson’s gym as he has in the past. However, the only significant difference in his life likely to be on Stann’s mind come showtime will relate to a beloved family member he recently lost.
The untimely death of his brother-in-law right before Christmas forced Stann to reevaluate his mindset on a few things, one of which pertained to staying closer to his wife and mother-in-law in Pennsylvania rather than travel to New Mexico and attend Jackson’s. The 31-year old wrote about his experience and growth in a blog entry for FOXSports where he revealed the true man beneath the fighter/decorated veteran.
“My wife and I never expected such a tragedy to unfold just before Christmas, but it just goes to show that Mixed Martial Arts is a sport, nothing more, and that family will always conquer all, as far as I’m concerned,” explained Stann. “Something like this only helps to remind me just why I fight. I am responsible for supporting my family, both emotionally and financially, and Mixed Martial Arts is the way in which I am able to do this. They need my help at a time like this and, thankfully, the UFC has given me an opportunity to provide for them.”
“Unlike the (Chael) Sonnen loss, the death of my brother-in-law was a genuinely trying situation,” the 185er admitted, pointing out the importance of maintaining perspective. “I remember the moment I heard the news like it was only yesterday. We were in baggage claim when I got the call. It was our first time home in Pennsylvania, where we planned to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families. I had to tell my wife the news as we landed in Pennsylvania. There is nothing worse than watching the woman you love be completely devastated and heartbroken by a piece of news you’ve delivered to her. It was one of the lowest points of my life.”
Still, as crushed as Stann may feel inside, in no way is he ready to approach his upcoming fight with anything but respect in honor of his brother-in-law’s life.
“A lot of people would use a tragedy like this as a potential excuse if they were then unable to perform to their best come fight night,” Stann offered, turning towards the motivation he’s been given by his brother-in-law’s death. “I can assure everybody reading this, as well as my opponent, Alessio Sakara, that I will be more than ready come April 14. There will be nothing else in the world that I would rather do on that night than step into the Octagon and fight,” Stann explained. “Adversity is always what truly defines people, and last Christmas was the most testing time for my family — for me, my wife, my kids and everybody else. It was as tough a situation as any of us have experienced. In my mind, this fight on April 14 will go some way to memorializing Louie and showing once again that adversity can be overcome with a strong family and positive outlook. In light of everything that’s happened, I’ve never in my life been more determined and motivated to win a fight. This is the absolute worst time to fight me right now.”
Stann-Sakara will be one of the featured fights at UFC on Fuel 2, a card headlined by Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva and also highlighted by in-ring appearances from Brad Pickett, Diego Brandao, Paulo Thiago, Siyar Bahadurzada, and Dennis Siver.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: I’m always captivated by what Stann has to say. I don’t even know his politics but I’m pretty sure I’d considering giving him my vote for President if he runs in 15-20 years and I’m still on this planet. I definitely think I’d follow him into battle. He has an incredibly humility and honesty about him while also being a bad-ass. Definitely a rare combination of characteristics.