Earlier this week I interviewed UFC middleweight Brian Stann about his victory over Mike Massenzio at UFC on Versus 2 on Sunday. It’s for an article in the upcoming print edition of Marine Corps Times that hits newsstands Monday, and it will run alongside a co-worker’s story on Sgt. George Lockhart, an instructor at the Corps’ Martial Arts School of Excellence who helped Stann and UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones make weight for their fights. So go buy a newspaper on Monday. Please.
Until then, here’s some other tidbits from my talk with Stann, as well as some quotes from coach Mike Winkeljohn, who trained the former Marine during his pre-fight camp at Jackson’s and Winkeljohn’s Mixed Martial Arts.
On Tim Kennedy:
Stann had a chance to train with Army Staff Sgt. Tim Kennedy, who is fighting for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title on Aug. 21, when Kennedy came out to Jackson’s for a week. Stann called Kennedy an “extraordinary grappler” with lots of fighting experience. The two had met earlier while taping a radio show, and Stann expects the two combat-hardened fighters to forge a solid working relationship as their careers move forward.
As for Kennedy’s upcoming championship bout with Ronald “Jacare” Souza, Stann didn’t hesitate to pick a winner.
“I think they’ll be strapping a belt around [Tim’s] waist.”
On cutting down to 185 pounds:
“It really wasn’t that hard,” Stann said of his drop to the middleweight class. “It was easier than I though it was going to be.”
Stann credited Lockhart for assisting his weight loss, and said the Marine put together his pre- and post-weigh-in diets, which left him with plenty of energy for the Massenzio fight.
“I was still flying around in the third round and feeling fine,” said Stann.
On George Lockhart:
Stann couldn’t say enough good things about Lockhart, a pro fighter himself. The two have worked together since when Stann was still on active duty, and he calls Lockhart “one of the best in the business” when it comes to helping fighters make weight.
“George really knows what he’s doing,” Stann said.
There’ll be much more on Lockhart in the print edition of Marine Corps Times.
On training with Jon Jones:
Stann and Jones bonded as prepared for UFC on Versus 2 at Jackson’s gym in New Mexico. Stann has experienced Jones’ speed and power up close, and knows hard it will be for a light heavyweight to stop the 23-year-old phenom.
Training with Jones “is fun and frustrating all at the same time,” Stann said. “It’s fun because of his personality … and it’s frustrating because the guy is so talented … he’s just that special of an athlete”
Stann marveled at Jones’ ability to learn new moves in a short amount of time. He also called Jones “a gamer,” the type of fighter who steps up his level of performance when it matters most.
“There’s nobody in [the light heavyweight]division who’s not going to have a difficult time with him,” Stann said.
Mike Winkeljohn on Stann and Jones training together:
Winkeljohn credited Stann with turning around Jones’ camp after the fighter had trouble getting into a groove while training for UFC on Versus 2.
“Brian kind of big-brothered him,” Winkeljohn said. “Showed him how to treat other people and how to treat himself.”
Winkeljohn on Stann’s development as a fighter:
When Stann fought in the WEC, he liked to just stand up and trade with opponents, and it usually worked. But since moving to the UFC and becoming a full-time fighter, Stann has worked to round out his game. Winkeljohn says Stann is far more versatile a fighter now, and is “capable of fighting anywhere in the cage.”
Winkeljohn wasn’t overly surprised to Stann win via submission. He said Stann’s ability to wear down Massenzio throughout the fight, then rock him with strikes in the third round forced Massenzio to change his game plan and lose his wrestling edge.
“Now that other fighters see that he’s got ground skills, his striking is going to be more effective,” Winkeljohn said.
Stann on Navy’s upcoming football season:
“I think they’re going to win another bowl game and they’re going to beat Army again.”