When an opportunity to fight a living legend arises, sometimes a fighter will accept a fight outside of his weight class, and that’s exactly what Brian Stann is doing on March 2.
Stann faces Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8 at the famed Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
“When I first thought about coming into the sport, my favorite fighter was Wanderlei Silva. I would watch his fights in Pride and just marvel at the tenacity that he brought inside the ring and how he fought. Not only that, but the way he treated other people and the way he conducted himself outside of the ring,” said Stann of his opponent. “I’m very honored that I get to be his opponent.”
The decorated U.S. Marine isn’t going to have to cut any weight for this fight, and believes that’s an advantage.
“It’s really just a matter of not having to cut. I did not think it would benefit me to put on extra weight. I think speed is more important,” said Stann. “I’ve always been strong and always been powerful even with training with much larger light heavyweights early in my career and fighting light heavyweights. I think it’s more important to be athletic and fast.”
Stann, the former WEC light heavyweight titleholder, has fought his last six bouts in the middleweight division, and has no intentions of fighting at 205 pounds after this weekend’s match with Silva. He classified this match-up at light heavyweight as a “one and done” deal.
“I’m a middleweight. I could compete at light heavyweight, but if I want to be top ten and compete for the title, it needs to be at middleweight. With my style and the ways I’ve had difficulties in my career with people neutralizing me, it benefits me to be the bigger, stronger individual when people are trying to neutralize me against the cage and on the ground,” he said.
Fighting Silva in the arena where he solidified his legacy can be overwhelming, distracting at the very least. Stann plans to put all of that aside on March 2.
“I’ve got to put it all aside for right now, and it’s difficult. Even now, I look across at Wanderlei and it’s hard not to get nostalgic,” said Stann at Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference. “He has forgotten more about MMA than I’ll ever know. He’s done more for the sport in any two years of his career than I’ll ever do in my entire career. I’ve got to put all of that aside. I’ve got to put on my best performance to defeat him.”