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Brian Stann: “It really is a privilege to be a professional athlete.”

Brian Stann‘s accomplishments are something to marvel at as the 31-year-old reached the rank of Captain in the United States Marine Corps and served on several missions including one that landed him the Silver Star – the nation’s third highest award for valor.

Stann, though, found a way to balance serving his country with building an MMA career, and he worked his way up to becoming the World Extreme Cagefighting light heavyweight champion in 2008.

Now, Stann is set for his biggest fight inside the Octagon when he takes on Chael Sonnen October 8 at UFC 136. It has been reported that the winner of the bout will get the next crack at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Having seen the pain that war causes, the Jackson’s MMA fighter makes sure to make the most of every single day, including those that involve training as an MMA fighter.

“I will never, ever complain about training,” Stann recently wrote on his FoxSports blog. “I truly feel blessed to be able to make a living from this sport and to be in a position where I am able to train, learn and improve on a daily basis. For those very reasons, training is only a fun and enjoyable experience for me. Each day is new, different and exciting, and every session presents me with a platform upon which I can build for a better future.”

Stann entered the UFC after dropping his WEC title to Steve Cantwell. He lost to Krzysztof Soszynski in his debut, but rebounded to defeat Cantwell and Rodney Wallace. After a loss to Phil Davis, Stann decided to drop down to 185 pounds and he hasn’t looked back, winning three straight fights, including a pair of “Fight of the Night” honors.

Despite the fame and fortune, Stann has remained grounded, as he never forgets where he came from.

“Having worked regular jobs my whole life, believe me, it really is a privilege to be a professional athlete,” Stann said. “There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t pause to think just how lucky I am. As just a small cog in his mixed martial arts adventure, I have been allowed to go places, see things, feel things and spend time with people who I will value and remember for the rest of my life.

Now, he faces Sonnen, a man that pushed Silva to the brink before falling via submission in the fifth round of their title fight last year.

“On Octobe 8 at UFC 136, I will walk into the Octagon to face Chael Sonnen, the universally recognized #2 middleweight in the world,” Stann said, “and, yes, it’s fair to say I haven’t had to look far for inspiration or, indeed, motivation.”