UFC middleweight fighter Brian Stann is keeping his mind solely focused on his next opponent, Chael Sonnen, but it’s difficult for the rest of us not to talk about the possible title shot looming in his future. Though UFC president Dana White hasn’t said as much for sure, the October scrap between Sonnen and Stann will likely determine the next challenger to Anderson Silva’s championship strap.
Winning the belt from who he describes as “the greatest fighter of all time” would admittedly be a crowning achievement for Stann, but it would also open the door to fights against his teammates, as the All-American recently told FightLine.com that the only way he’ll square off with any of his Team Jackson stablemates would be if it were in contest of a belt — his or otherwise.
“No, I mean, I don’t want to fight any of my teammates and I hope it never happens, but at the end of the day, if I have a belt or somebody has a belt and that teammate calls me –- you don’t get title shots often in this sport. Ninety percent of the fighters who do this sport at this level, in the UFC, never get a title shot,” the former Marine Corps Captain explained. “And the money associated with a title shot and the career achievement of just fighting for the title are very important. So, it would be difficult for me to say I’ll never fight a teammate, because if there’s a belt on the line, there can only be one champion. Who am I to tell my teammate, if I have the belt, ‘You can’t fight me for it because we’re teammates.’ That’s bullsh**. You gotta put that aside. We fight each other every day in the damn gym, we’re gonna do it for a belt.”
That is, with the likely exception of fellow middleweight Tim Kennedy.
Like Stann, Kennedy is also a decorated former member of the United States Armed Forces; he even began his MMA career while simultaneously fulfilling his duties as a Green Beret. Both men have seen battle and, though they’ve known each other for only a short time, Stann explained that the respect they’ve cultivated for one another out of those shared experiences makes the idea of competing against each other borderline repulsive.
“Never. That fight will never happen,” he said. “It’s just a different relationship between me and Tim. Would it be a great fight? Sure. It is a great fight. Come down to Jackson’s and watch us get after it –- and me and Tim absolutely get after it. It’s great because Tim is one of the best grapplers in the world and he has so much to share with me there and, obviously, I’m one of the top strikers in the middleweight division and there’s so much I can share with him there. There’s a bond there, where although me and Tim haven’t known each other for a huge amount of time, there’s just a different bond that we have there with each other and respect level that, we’re not gonna go in there and compete against one another. We’re always gonna help one another for it. We really enjoy each other’s company, even though our personalities are so different. It helps us get along. Tim’s one of those guys –- I’m sometimes ultra-serious and Tim is a guy who can always make me smile, make me laugh, make me take things a little less serious. He’s a great guy to have around and a great friend.”
Stann is staunch and very active in supporting his military brethren; he runs the charity Hire Heroes USA, which assists out-of-work veterans in finding gainful employment. Stann told FightLine.com about how one of his sponsors, TRX Force Tactical Suspension Trainer, has gone above and beyond in supporting that cause.
“The military is really trying to find different ways to condition their warriors and TRX has been a huge part of that,” said Stann. “TRX is throwing up this mission readiness test, where you can do max repetitions of these four exercises for this test and they’re gonna see who’s the most fit warrior in each service and then have them compete against each other. So, it’s really pretty cool and I’m glad to be involved in that. And lastly, what’s really special and near and dear to my heart, is that TRX has gotten behind the charity I run, Hire Heroes USA and sponsor Hire Heroes USA’s Marine Corps marathon team and they’re helping us take a stand and fighting against veteran unemployment in these tough economic times.”