A win for either fighter could potentially yield a showdown with middleweight champion Anderson Silva, so I fully expect to see the best Michael Bisping and the best Brian Stann inside the Octagon tonight.
So who wins?
In top form, Michael Bisping beats Brian Stann eight out of 10 times. Bisping's striking is crisp and accurate, and his footwork is phenomenal. What people do not talk as much about, though, is his wrestling.
British fighters generally have weak wrestling, and we have seen Bisping gradually grow and develop in this area throughout his UFC career. In his most recent fight, a loss to Chael Sonnen, Bisping stuffed three out of seven takedown attempts from Sonnen and even landed one of his own against the elite wrestler. To say that Bisping has good wrestling is an understatement—his wrestling is fantastic.
Unfortunately for Brian Stann, this area is his downfall. Stann has remarked (via MMAjunkie.com) that his wrestling is better than ever (and I'm sure it is), but I fail to believe that he has cultivated his wrestling skills to an elite level between his recent loss to Sonnen and now.
Simply comparing each fighter's performance against Sonnen tells the story.
Stann was taken down repeatedly and eventually submitted, whereas Bisping stuffed takedown attempts, lost a close decision and impressed even his horde of haters with a fine performance. He never looked outclassed against Sonnen; Brian Stann did.
When somebody has more technical striking, better wrestling and a full tank of gas to easily accommodate a three-round war, I am picking him or her all day, every day.
Brian Stann drops bombs and throws serious leather, but I will never bet on somebody simply because of a puncher's chance.
Brian Stann is not just somebody, folks. When there is adversity, Brian Stann answers the call, and I fully expect him to come out swinging and connect with Bisping's chin early and often.
To put his power in perspective, Stann knocked Chris Leben out cold, something only one other man has done. That man ended up being a pretty decent fighter, for the record.
My penchant for rational thinking be damned, I'm going with Brian Stann.
Brian Stann via KO (Round 1)