In the UFC 125 co-main event, middleweights Brian Stann and Chris Leben are matched up in a bout that should be a crowd pleaser.
Leben resurrected his career in 2010, reeling off three victories in a row and mounting a case for comeback fighter of the year, after losing to Michael Bisping and testing positive to a banned substance in 2008 and being submitted by Jake Rosholt in his only Octagon appearance of 2009.
Brian Stann, a former WEC light heavyweight titleholder, recently transitioned to the middleweight division and defeated Mike Massenzio in his 185-pound debut in August.
What stands out immediately is the differential in experience between the two. Leben has more knockouts than Stann has fights.
Stylistically, both Leben and Stann like to stand and throw leather.
Stann will enjoy a reach advantage and delivers straight punches. If he employs a similar strategy that Bisping saw success with in his win over Leben, Stann could defeat the heavy handed brawler by out pointing him on the outside.
Leben has a tendency to deliver his punches wide, but when they land, they end fights. He moves forward, head hunting and stalking his opponents down. His legendary chin allows him to take two to give one back.
While Leben is primarily known for his brawling, it’s important to note that he also possesses solid wrestling skills and is difficult to take down, as he showed in his win over former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Aaron Simpson.
Stann will have a lot of difficulty getting the bad boy from the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” to the canvas.
Stann is well-rounded and has shown marked improvement since working under coach Greg Jackson, and will likely have a good game plan entering the cage on Saturday. But does he have the experience to stay disciplined enough to not get caught up in a slugfest with a guy who’s made a career out of winning slugfests?
The odds have Leben as a -180 favorite and Stann listed as a +150 underdog. I don’t disagree with those odds.
Leben’s chin, takedown defense and knockout power coupled with his experience should garner him a KO or TKO win. Expect an exciting display with Leben ending it in the second round.