At first glance UFC middleweight Brian Stann may appear to be somewhat invincible. His jaw is seemingly cut from granite, he’s physically imposing, and his entire adult life has involved collegiate football, the Marines, and now Mixed Martial Arts. However, truly, Stann is as mortal as anyone reading this column.
The 31-year old recently revealed exactly how human he is in a blog for FoxSports where Stann explained that the unexpected death of his brother-in-law a few days before Christmas left him shook. It also instilled a new sense of appreciation in him for the gifts he’s been given, the physical kind of which he’ll employ next month as part of the lineup for UFC on Fuel 2.
“People lose sight of the fact that life continues when us guys are caught up in the isolation of training camp. Try as we might to focus purely on the fight, you can’t ignore what life is going to throw at you along the way. 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,” wrote Stann in his latest entry. “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.”
As a means of supporting his wife and mother-in-law, who lives with them, Stann decided to hold his camp in the area he hails from rather than traveling to New Mexico to work with Greg Jackson as he normally would. A credit to the team, Jackson and company have still been there to help Stann along the way, reviewing tape while sending pointers and planning to corner him at next month’s event.
“It also really put the notion of loss into perspective for me,” Stann elaborated on the untimely passing. “My last professional loss, to Chael Sonnen in October, wasn’t a testing time at all, in retrospect. That was just a defeat. I lost a fight. What could have gone wrong, did go wrong. That was all. Nobody got hurt and there was no irreparable damage.”
“Unlike the Sonnen loss, the death of my brother-in-law was a genuinely trying situation,” he continued. “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.”
As foreign as the last few months may have felt to Stann, that doesn’t mean opponent Alessio Sakara should expect a beaten individual to step inside the Octagon. Rather, Stann is as motivated as he’s ever been and poised to honor the memory of his beloved family member.
“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. But 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.”
With a new fire burning inside and limitless potential it appears a new Stann will display his desire and skill-set in Sweden, a frightening prospect for all of his middleweight peers.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC