Chael Sonnen vs. Brian Stann
Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) vs. Brian Stann (11-3)
In a marquee middleweight meeting, the outspoken former title challenger Sonnen returns to the octagon to face the American military hero Stann.
Sonnen, 34, recently served a suspension after failing a drug screening following his middleweight title bout with Anderson Silva in August 2010. However, even in defeat, Sonnen is coming off a career-defining performance against one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Sonnen used his patented takedowns and ground-and-pound to dominate UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva for five rounds before succumbing to a triangle choke with less than two minutes left in the bout. Sonnen did not get the result he desired, but he proved he has what it takes to hang with the best in the sport.
A product of Team Quest, the former NCAA Division I wrestler and Olympic alternate has notable wins over Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami, Dan Miller and Paulo Filho.
Sonnen’s improvements since he got his start in the sport in 1997 are well-documented, though his submission defense continues to be his Achilles’ heel.
Stann, 31, has been nothing short of sensational since his drop to middleweight. The former U.S. Marine Corps captain submitted Mike Massenzio before earning back-to-back knockout wins over Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago.
A former WEC light heavyweight champion, Stann finally has dedicated himself full time to the sport, and his potential is limitless. For this fight, Stann held his training camp in New Mexico under Greg Jackson, who continues to teach him new tricks.
Stann is a dangerous striker with continually improving Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. These skills could prove vital if Sonnen ends up on top of him, which is a likely scenario.
Sonnen’s inactivity also puts a question mark on this fight. The Oregon native has not entered the octagon for over a full year, while Stann already has recorded two knockout wins in 2011 alone.
Stylistically, however, Sonnen could have his number. Armed with an overwhelming wrestling base, the two-time University Greco national champion should use his stifling takedowns and brutal ground-and-pound to outwork Stann over 15 competitive minutes.
Verdict: Sonnen via decision