It was a bad weekend for the service academy football teams. Very bad.
Army lost to previously winless Miami (Ohio). Air Force got smoked by Notre Dame. Navy was trounced at home by Southern Miss.
And on top of all of that, the military’s biggest MMA star — former Marine officer and Silver Star recipient Brian Stann — was soundly defeated Saturday night at UFC 136.
The only of the above events I watched was Stann’s loss, which was somewhat stunning. It wasn’t surprising that Stann lost — he was the underdog — but it was shocking to see Chael Sonnen dominate him so thoroughly right from opening bell.
An All-American wrestler at the University of Oregon, Sonnen’s grappling abilities proved to be too much for Stann, who’s had his greatest success as a stand-and-bang fighter. By the end of Saturday’s fight, Stann had spent most of the match on his back or against the fence, unable to create any distance from Sonnen. According to FightMetric.com, Stann was outstruck 28-2 by Sonnen and was taken down four times.
Sonnen completed his dominating performance with an arm triangle, forcing Stann to tap at 3:51 in the second round. Adding insult to injury, Sonnen didn’t even discuss the match in hi postfight interview in the Octagon, choosing instead to callout rival Anderson Silva in a WWE-esque rant. Intentionally or unintentionally, Sonnen’s antics seemed to drive home that this was an easy victory for him.
The loss is Stann’s first since dropping to middleweight, where he had won three straight fights. Stann’s last loss in the Octagon — to light heavyweight Phil Davis in Feb. 2010 — was another matchup against a former NCAA All-American wrestler.
Afterward Stann was understandably frustrated.
“I thought I was strong enough to handle his wrestling and that wasn’t the case, ” Stann said. “You don’t want Chael Sonnen on top of you. It was horrible.”
Stann’s pro record now stands at 11-4.
Last season saw all three service academy football teams make it to bowl games. It appears highly unlikely that will happen again.
Army (2-4) made a bowl for the first time in 15 years last year, but they’re a longshot for postseason play in 2011. West Poin has lost all three of its road games this season, including a defeat at the hands of a struggling Miami on Saturday. That game saw the Black Knight squander a 14-point second half lead.
At home, Army looks like a team on the rise, beating Tulane 45-6 last week and beating the Big 10’s Northwestern three weeks ago. But on the road, the Cadets have been miserable, giving up 129 points in three losses. With four of its remaining six games being played away from Michie Stadium, it’s hard to picture Army getting enough W’s to be bowl eligible.
Army’s biggest rival is having problems of its own right now. In just over a week Navy has lost to rival Air Force at home, seen senior captain and leading rusher Alexander Teich sidelined for disciplinary reasons, and lost another home game, this time via a bludgeoning at the hands of Southern Miss on Saturday. The 63 points given up against the Golden Eagles was the most for the Mids since 2002. Navy’s three-game losing streak is the first during coach Ken Niumatalolo’s four seasons in Annapolis.
With the way things are going downhill both on and off the field, it’s concievable that Navy could have trouble picking up four wins in its last seven games. Five of the Mids final games are on the road, including trips to Rutgers, SMU and Notre Dame, who are a combined 12-4 at the moment. If Navy can’t squeeze four wins out, they’ll end up missing a bowl game for the first time since 2002.
Air Force is in the best shape of any of the service acadamies right now, but that ain’t saying much. The Falcons (3-2) have no shortage of problems themselves, first and foremost being a defense that allowed 42 first-half points to Notre Dame in a 59-33 loss on Saturday. Injuries are a big part of the problem. And unfortunately for Air Force, the schedule offers no respite. The Falcons play a tough San Diego State team (3-2) on Thursday, which give Air Force little time to heal. After that, the Falcons have to travel to Idaho to play No. 5 Boise State.