Brian Stann, a former Marine captain who earned the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq, is fighting veteran middleweight Chris Leben at UFC 125 on Jan. 1. It’s the most high-profile fight of Stann’s MMA career, and as he notes in this video, he’s the underdog coming into the bout. Leben, a fan favorite for both his high-energy fighting style outsized personality, is a well-rounded brawler who can win a fight on the ground or standing. Leben also has 31 pro fights under his belt — considerably more experience than Stann — and comes into this matchup having won three in a row in the UFC.
Maybe it’s just a dumb hunch, but I expect Stann to give Leben a lot stiffer challenge than many MMA fans think. He’s now been training with Greg Jackson’s folks for more than two years, and his fight game has evolved. Stann is also finally getting a shot against a fighter who will stand and trade with him, as opposed to a wrestling specialist.
Even if Stann does not win this fight, a strong performance against someone of Leben’s caliber could go a long way to earning him more respect from fans, and more big-time fights in the future.