To look at Brian Stann's record for 2012 and see that he ended up with one win and one loss doesn't even begin to tell the real story about how he viewed the year as a whole.
2012 wasn't about fighting for the former Marine when he looks back on the tragedies his family suffered—the loss of his brother-in-law—because it's something so much bigger than what he was doing in the UFC cage.
"I was happy to have 2012 gone," Stann told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "The bottom line is the things that distracted me in 2012 were more important than fighting. It's as simple as that. Nobody likes to hear that. Fans don't like to hear that, coaches, promoters don't like to hear that, but it's the fact of the matter. I had big things going on in my life that needed my time and that needed my focus and it pulled me away."
To look at his fight career in 2012, Stann defeated Alessio Sakara and lost a razor-close fight to Michael Bisping at UFC 152 in September, but he was nowhere near satisfied with his performances overall.
Personal problems interject themselves into professional life, and Stann knows that firsthand after a very rough year, but he's turning the page and putting in the necessary work to get back on track in 2013.
"I don't know if there was anyone on the UFC roster that was happier to see 2012 gone than I was. It was by far the most difficult year of my mixed martial arts career," said Stann. "I'm ecstatic that it's over, I was able to close the book on some of the distractions in my personal life and now move forward."
To prepare for his upcoming fight against Wanderlei Silva, Stann brought in new training partners to his home gym in Atlanta and revamped the training he was doing to truly feel like a complete mixed martial artist.
Gone are the days when Stann is known as a striker who can be beaten if you take him down. He wants to be as dangerous on the mat as he is on his feet, and vice versa.
To get started this year, Stann will technically move back up to his old weight class of 205 pounds to face UFC and Pride legend Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC on Fuel 8 from Japan. The weight class didn't matter because Stann just wanted to fight, and with most of the top-ranked middleweights tied up, it make perfect sense to face a well-known fighter like Silva in the main event of a UFC card.
"Wanderlei wanted the fight at 205 cause that's where he wants to fight right now, and I said that's fine. I just need to get in there and I need to fight. I don't want to wait around and go six or seven months between fights," Stann commented. "We took the fight and basically to me it's a middleweight fight, we're both middleweight fighters. He may stay at light heavyweight because he wants to, but to me it's a middleweight fight where we agreed not to cut the weight."
Over the past few years, Wanderlei Silva's fight career has fallen on hard times. Not that long ago, Silva was revered as the top light heavyweight in the sport, putting together an incredible winning streak in Pride and absolutely crushing every opponent along the way.
Time catches up with every athlete, however, and Silva's run in the UFC has been anything but smooth. Talk of retirement comes up often when Silva fights, or more particularly when he loses, but Stann knows a wounded dog still carries a very deadly bite.
"He is still always dangerous. When you look at the fights, even the fights he loses, at some point or another he usually hurts the man he's fighting. When you talk about a guy who throws at volume and wins rounds, Wanderlei is not a guy who thinks like that most of the time. He looks to put a guy away," Stann stated.
"He is always a danger to put your lights out—no matter how old he is, no matter how many fights he's had, no matter what his record is. That's one thing you can always count on from him. He's like swatting a hornet's nest. Once you bump that thing it's like a tornado of brutal bee stings coming your way."
Maybe it's his military background or just the way he's been brought up from childhood, but Stann has never gotten into the business of trash talk, and he may be one of the most respectful individuals in all of MMA. It's no different when Stann talks about Silva; he uses words like "legendary" to describe the grizzled veteran.
Regardless of how much respect Stann has for his opponent, he wants to send a message in this fight, and unfortunately it comes at the sacrifice of Wanderlei Silva.
"I'm coming in to win this fight, period. I'm not happy with how 2012 ended for me. I'm not satisfied where my career has been in mixed martial arts," said Stann. "I'm not looking to walk away anytime soon. I'm not looking to move into broadcast anytime soon or any of that.
"I'm not comfortable with where I am. In fact, I'm not satisfied with it at all. I'm going into this fight with a much different attitude than some people may realize."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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