The analysis team for the UFC on Fuel TV and Fox broadcasts have been providing the best in-depth coverage mixed martial has seen in its 20 years of existence.
With a collection of seasoned fight veterans at the helm and a handful of well versed fight game minds in the mix, the cast working the pre- and post-fight shows for the UFC have consistently raised the bar.
The great news is that coverage is expanding and BR MMA will be the place where those analysts dig deeper into upcoming fight cards. Our first installment of "Dropping Knowledge" features Brian Stann as "The All-American" breaks down this weekend's card at UFC on Fox 8.
The former WEC light heavyweight champion turned middleweight contender may be recently retired from his work inside the cage, but the Silver Star recipient has quickly become a powerhouse behind the analyst desk, and has done so in quick fashion.
When breaking down fights, Stann takes a cerebral approach where both his calculated eye as an analyst and in the fire experience as a former top ranked mixed martial artist come into play.
In just a short amount of time working on the UFC broadcasts, Stann has risen to become the go-to-guy when explaining the ins and outs of what will take place when the cage door closes.
This is what Stann told Bleacher Report about this weekend's card at UFC on Fox 8 in Seattle:
Let's start with the co-main event between top welterweights Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. What do you think are the key factors for each fighter going into this tilt?
"Wrestling is obviously going to be a big thing in this fight and I think they may neutralize each other there. I think Jake has more wrestling years under his belt. Even though he wasn't a collegiate wrestler he was training at Team Quest and now has been training with Mark Munoz at Reign for so long, I believe he may have that option later in the fight if he wants to take it to the floor.
"On the feet, Rory MacDonald tends to fight a little longer and a little more calculated. He looks to pick guys apart using his kicks and his reach. I think it's going to be important for Ellenberger to really explode through space and use footwork to create angles to close the distance and not allow Rory to stay at his range, land shots and outpoint him over the course of the fight.
"Obviously both guys are finishers. MacDonald is more of a wear-you-down type guy but Ellenberger has the ability to put your lights out at any moment."
Both Ellenberger and MacDonald have proven to be extremely talented fighters, but who in your opinion has the edge in the intangible department?
"I'm going to have to go with Jake Ellenberger in that department. Now, I'm going to have to admit that I know him a little better having trained with him before. I don't know Rory as well, but from what I can see on tape, Ellenberger seems to be the guy who is more scrappy and blue-collar in nature.
"He's been doing this for a long time and he has a chip on his shoulder because he has seen other guys who have put in the same time as he's invested and they've gotten those title shots, big money and all the things a fighter dreams about.
"Jake is right on the cusp and I think this is that fight that puts him over the edge and gets him all the things he's been working so hard for."
As you very well know, the welterweight division is easily one of the most competitive weight classes under the UFC banner. With Ellenberger and MacDonald being near the top of the division, do you think an impressive victory from either man could warrant a title shot? Or do you think there will still be at least one more fight needed before they get there?
"I think they are probably one more fight away. The reason I say that is because it's not as much about depth as it is about timing. The UFC doesn't like when guys try to wait it out for a title shot and sit on the sidelines for a year without taking fights.
"Too often they've seen guys wait that long, but then there is an injury and the title is not defended. They don't like that. Because GSP is already set to fight Johny Hendricks later this year, I believe the timing is going to make it where the winner of this fight is probably going to have to fight again.
"If Robbie Lawler comes out and looks impressive again, he could be the guy they have to get through in order to earn a title shot. Or it could be one of a handful of welterweights, because like you said, that division is extremely competitive.
Moving on to the main event between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga, how does Moraga offset "Mighty Mouse's" speed and movement?
"It's difficult but one of the keys is that 'D.J.' is really great at making guys chase him. There is a difference between stalking someone and cutting them off. If Moraga just tries to find him and follows him around, Johnson will cut angles and counter punch and use counter takedowns to put him on the mat all night long.
"Moraga has got to cut D.J. off and put D.J. where he can hit him. D.J. has been rocked in both of his last two fights and I think Moraga's best chance to win this fight is getting a knockout in rounds one, two, or three.
"Once you start getting past the second round with Demetrious Johnson, most guys just can't keep up with that pace. He wears them down and he dominates the fourth and fifth round."
This fight seems to carry a tremendous upside for Moraga but let me ask your opinion about pressure. Do you believe Moraga going from the first fight on the Facebook prelims in his last showing to a title bout in the main event of his upcoming fight this weekend will be a ton of pressure for him to carry?
"It's a ton of pressure to carry. Like I said before, timing is crucial in this sport and Moraga has great timing. He's in a division that is thin and when D.J. is running through everyone else, he fought his way to get to the right place at the right time. Now he has to capitalize on it.
"I think there is a ton of upside in this fight for him. Even if he just has a really competitive fight, his stock is going to skyrocket and he's still going to be one or two wins away from another title shot until this division really starts to get more depth.
Staying with the theme of pressure, there is an interesting matchup taking place in the lightweight division between Mac Danzig and Melvin Guillard. Both men have struggled to gain solid footing as of late but who do you believe has the most to lose on Saturday night?
"In the Danzig vs. Guillard fight, I think the pressure is more on Melvin. I think the pressure is on him because of his issues outside of the Octagon. Mac Danzig is a very mature, very bright young man, and while I imagine there is pressure on him to stay relevant, pressure on him for his career, he is the type of guy who strikes me to have multiple back-up plans after fighting is over. He's a very well-rounded fighter but he has had some of the worst luck in UFC history.
"Melvin Guillard on the other hand, is more of a ticking time bomb. He can knock you out at any moment. In some fights he looks like a world beater, but in other fights, he has a huge mental breakdown that costs him the fight. I really think the more pressure is on him because he's had so much going on outside the cage with switching teams, court cases, etc.
"He needs to win this fight. He needs to start getting consistent and get his personal life in order so that his professional life can be more successful. I think he's trying to do that, but I haven't been in contact with him so I don't know that for sure."
Bobby Voelker stepped up on two week's notice to accept a dangerous fight with the heavy-handed knockout artist Robbie Lawler. While it seems to be a big disadvantage taking a fight on such short notice, are there any advantages for Voelker stepping in on such a quick turn in your opinion?
"There are huge advantages for Voelker. Robbie Lawler looked great in his last fight and has looked great in a couple of fights, but there have been fights where Lawler has looked disinterested.
"He's looked like a guy who has fought for a number of years and has had trouble motivating himself to get into the gym everyday. I think he's found a revitalization to his career with his last big win. He's back in the UFC. He's back to the title picture and that has the ability to revitalize you.
"But you can't take away the amount of years Lawler has been in the Octagon. Guys who have been doing this for a long time, there is only so long your chin is going to hold up, and Voelker is the kind of guy who is going to test the chin and put himself in a brawl where either guy can go down.
"So who knows? Voelker has more than a puncher's chance in this fight. When you come into a fight on two week's notice and no one is picking you to win, the more entertaining of a fight you put on, the higher your stock goes up.
"The UFC always rewards guys who are willing to stay in shape year-round, who are ready to step in there on short notice and go out there and put on a great performance. I don't think he has much to lose here unless he goes out there and fights not to lose and puts on a boring show. But that is not Bobby Voelker's style."
While the two big fights at the top of the card are getting the lion's share of attention, what are a few of your personal gems you see on the fight card that fans should be paying attention to?
"I love watching Yves Edwards fight. Yves is a guy I used to watch when I first started out in this sport trying to pick up technique. I would watch a lot of tape on him and try to coach myself to learn what he was doing. He is fighting a younger Daron Cruickshank who has shown some really interesting skills inside the cage.
"This guy is really creative and he's a very good athlete. Both guys are tough and like to pick their opponents apart with big kicks and punches. I think that fight could be a sleeper fight on this card that could be awesome.
"Another fighter I'm obviously going to be watching is Julie Kedzie. Any time she fights I'm interested. She is a knockdown, drag out, brutal type of fighter. I haven't seen many women's MMA bouts yet that haven't been awesome. These women are bringing it and they are making people pay attention.
"Julie Kedzie is no different. She works so hard. I've trained with her for years and she is defined by her passion for this sport. She just can't help herself but to put on great performances. I'm very interested to see how she does in her UFC debut."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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