UFC middleweight Brian Stann started 2011 off with a bang by taking out the very durable Chris Leben via stoppage from strikes within one round, a feat only UFC middleweight Anderson Silva has been able rival.
Looking to build on that momentum, the “All American” sought a bout against MMA legend Wanderlei Silva for his follow up fight; unfortunately for Stann, between Silva’s recent knee surgery and his trepidation at fighting a military hero, “The Axe Murderer” is off the table. It was recently announce though, that Stann would be taking on Jorge Santiago in late May at UFC 130. Despite his strong desire to face Silva, Stann recently told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani during an appearance on The MMA Hour that he is now more excited to face Santiago and holds no ill will toward Wandy.
“I buy his reason because I don’t see Wanderlei ever having to lie to anybody about anything,” Stann said. “He’s got nothing to prove for the rest of his life, as far as I’m concerned, especially in this sport. … For every one Brian Stann fan, there’s about 50 Wanderlei Silva fans across the world. He’s an international superstar. There’s no way he would have gotten booed coming into that fight. But things happen. As fighters get older and they’ve accomplished more, who knows what’s going through his head or what he’s got going on in his personal life right now. I don’t know those things.
“Any time that I have actually met Wanderlei, which is very few, he’s just been an amazing guy. He’s been a champion,” he continued. “So I certainly didn’t take it as an insult or anything of the sort. I just took it as it wasn’t the right time or the place, and I knew I was kind of even rolling the dice to get that fight anyways.”
Stann told Helwani that Santiago, who has built an impressive record since last competing in the UFC in 2006, presents a better opportunity for him to prove himself as an elite middleweight.
“At the end of the day, I got a better fight,” said Stann. “I love Wanderlei, he’s the guy that I said since the WEC that would be my dream fight just because I always loved watching him fight, but let’s face it, Jorge Santiago is ranked in the top 10 for the last two years. This is a better fight for me.”
Stann and Santiago will meet at UFC 130: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 on May 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.