Brian Stann is a UFC veteran, a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion, and a veteran of the United States Marine Corp. And at UFC 125 “Resolution”, he finally emerged as a legitimate threat in the UFC’s Middleweight division, beating back the always-dangerous Chris Leben and putting an end to what was arguably the best win-streak of Leben’s career. Moving forward, Stann could emerge as a legitimate championship contender by the time 2011 is through, so long as he faces the right opponents. And who should those opponents be? Here’s a Top 5 with just that in mind.
5. Demian Maia
After several big “fall from grace” moments that came in the form of a KO loss to Nate Marquardt and a humiliating Unanimous Decision loss to Anderson Silva, it appears that Demian Maia has finally begun to win back some of the luster he had when he first entered the UFC and was being hailed as the next Royce Gracie. Stann has only been submitted once, but he’s never faced an expert the caliber of Maia. This fight would prove that Stann is well-rounded enough to overcome any threat in all areas of the MMA game, because make no mistake, Maia is still an ace on the ground and his stand-up continues to show noticeable improvement.
4. Alan Belcher
This fight would test Stann’s adaptability and especially his takedown defense. It would be entertaining, of that there can be no doubt, because Belcher has no problem making it a brawl if you want to make it a brawl. The test for Stann, however, lies not in who brawls the best, but what he’ll do if and when Belcher feels that he’d stand a better chance of winning the fight by taking Stann down. If Stann can deal with Belcher’s strong takedowns and his brawling prowess, he’d set himself up for several major match-ups in the future.
We know Brian Stann can beat Chris Leben, but we also know that, for all intents and purposes, Michael Bisping is a better version of Chris Leben. Bisping has better Octagon control, more precise punches, and a very good ground game. Much like Leben, Bisping is also on a pretty good win-streak right now and once again he’s flirting with top-division status. If Stann puts another halt to another good win-streak, he’ll have earned a sizeable amount of credibility with the UFC top brass, who will most likely begin taking him seriously as a true top-division threat.
2. Nate Marquardt
I think we’ve all been forced to realize that Nate Marquardt shines against mid-level competition but consistently falters when matched up against high-level threats. More than any other fight, this one would prove which of those two classes of fighters Stann belongs to. If Stann isn’t ready for the absolute best, Marquardt should be able to beat him and perhaps even beat him dramatically. But if Stann is a true championship contender, he’ll prove that by beating Marquardt.
And my #1 pick for Brian Stann’s next opponent is…
I admit that this is the Wanderlei Silva fanboy in me talking. A lot of people have taken to calling out Wanderlei recently, now that he’s established some credibility in the Middleweight division by scoring a thrilling victory over Michael Bisping. I think Wanderlei vs. Stann would be an epic brawl that would only end with one man face-down on the canvas and out cold. Even though Silva is still in the process of finding himself in the crowded UFC Middleweight division, this fight has the most potential to be exhilarating, entertaining, and a firm step in the right direction for whomever ends up winning it.
And that’s what I think, fans and friends. What about you? What do you think of Brian Stann, and who would you like to see him fight in the future?