Following his loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 152, Brian Stann may already be at a bit of a crossroads in his UFC career.
After a lackluster 2-2 run at light heavyweight when he first entered the organization, Stann made the move to middleweight in August of 2010, and his win over Mike Massenzio started off the most successful stretch of his UFC tenure.
A couple of big-time knockout wins over Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago put Stann on the map as a true title contender at 185, but “The All American’s” struggles on the mat against Chael Sonnen and now Bisping have proved that he isn’t quite ready to make the leap into a bout with Anderson Silva anytime soon.
Despite Stann’s struggles in two of his last three Octagon bouts, there’s little doubt that the former U.S. Marine is one of the most dangerous competitors in the world in the middleweight division, and with under 20 career fights at 31 years old, he still has time to improve over the next few years.
Since both men recently lost fights with serious title implications, this matchup makes a ton of sense.
Stann needs to prove he can defeat a top wrestler in order to maintain his spot in the middleweight rankings, and he may not have a better shot at doing so than against Munoz.
Munoz has a nice list of amateur wrestling credentials on his resume, but he hasn’t been able to use his grappling as effectively as many would believe throughout his UFC career and could use a dominant victory on the ground to help him gain his mojo back after a tough loss to Chris Weidman.
This could easily end up being one of the better slugfests in recent memory if Stann is able to keep the fight upright, and if he can’t, he probably doesn’t deserve his spot in the top 10 anyway.
The UFC has been hit so unbelievably hard by injuries this year, it would be almost cruel if another main event needed to be changed heading into the final few months of the year.
A very interesting fight between Hector Lombard and Rousimar Palhares is currently set to take place at UFC on FX 6 in December, and if for some reason Palhares is unable to make it to fight weekend, Stann is the perfect replacement.
After a lackluster UFC debut, Lombard needs someone that will be willing to stand and exchange with him in his next fight, and while Palhares isn’t likely going to play that game, Stann won’t have a problem with it.
These two were originally set to fight at UFC on Fox 4 this August anyway, so the fight has been cooking inside the head of Joe Silva for a little while now, and it would be interesting to see what kind of reaction Stann would get fighting Lombard in his home country of Australia.
Stylistically, this is probably the toughest fight on this list for Brian Stann.
Jake Shields is one of the few elite grapplers in the middleweight division, and while Stann’s submission and takedown defense have been improving as of late, he’ll still have a hard time competing with Shields on the mat.
If Stann is able to stay upright, he should be able to win a decision on the feet, but Shields has shown off a world-class chin a few times in his career and won’t be an easy fighter to put away.
This fight makes sense since both fighters are coming off of high-profile losses and are two of the most popular fighters in the 185-lb division.
It also makes sense because this is a fight that the fans would be lucky to get.
Both Stann and Silva are willing to step into the center of the cage and throw bombs, and since both men have punching power that can end a fight in an instant, it should be a potential fight-of-the-year candidate.
Wanderlei has actually looked like a much better fighter since cutting down to middleweight, currently riding a 2-1 record in the division, but it’s his win over Michael Bisping that could make this fight interesting for Stann.
If “The All American” is able to land a few shots on the chin of Silva, this fight could be over quickly, but “The Axe Murderer” is still one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC when he gets comfortable inside the cage.
Zuffa needs someone marketable to fight Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold eventually, and since Stann was eliminated from UFC title contention for the near future last night, why not throw him into the mix against Rockhold?
The AKA-based fighter has been dominating the Strikeforce roster, winning the belt off of Jacare Souza and defending against Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy, but Rockhold is already running out of meaningful challengers for his belt.
Adding Stann to the Strikeforce roster for a few fights would significantly bolster the middleweight title scene, and a win for Stann here could lead to an eventual UFC title fight when the two organizations ultimately merge.