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UFC 136 Fight Card: Chael Sonnen vs. Brian Stann, Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Andrew BarrCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2011

UFC 136 Fight Card: Chael Sonnen vs. Brian Stann, Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    Top UFC middleweight contenders Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann are set to meet at UFC 136 in a fight to determine the division's No.1 contender.

    This will be Chael's first fight back in the UFC since battling for the championship more than a year ago against the still reigning champion, Anderson Silva. Sonnen put on an admirable performance against the champ—testing Silva like no other opponent had managed to do and dominating much of the fight.

    Ultimately, Silva was able to prove why he is champion, keeping his composure and catching a triangle choke after being dominated for four-and-a-half rounds.

    A failed drug test and some legal issues have kept Sonnen out of action for quite some time, and at UFC 136, he'll be hoping to make his triumphant return—while earning another shot at the middleweight belt.

    Brian Stann is a former light heavyweight who switched to the middleweight division less than two years ago. So far, the shift in weight classes has proved to be an excellent decision, as Brian has won all three fights at middleweight and has looked excellent doing it.

    While Stann has looked great in all his fights since moving to 185 lbs., he has yet to face a truly elite opponent. A victory over Chael would prove to the world that Brian is really ready for a title shot.

    Both men want the next middleweight title shot, but only one can have it.

    Who's going to win? Let's take a look.

Experience

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    Chael Sonnen is definitely the more experienced fighter.

    He has been fighting almost 10 years longer than Stann, has significantly more fights, and has faced better competition.

    Brian has definitely faced some tough guys and he was even a champion in the WEC. The former marine is no stranger to being in high-pressure fights, so in that sense he has nothing to worry about.

    However, Stann should be a bit worried that he's never fought a fighter who's even top 25 in the sport (minus a young Phil Davis perhaps) and Chael almost defeated the best fighter on the planet.

    Edge: Chael Sonnen

Cardio

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    This is only a three-round fight, so there is a pretty good chance cardio won't be much of a factor.

    That said, if cardio favors anyone, it will be Chael.

    The majority of Sonnen's wins have come by decision, so he is no stranger to having fights go the distance. Stann has also had some fights go the distance, but most of his bouts have ended in the first round.

    Sonnen loves to push the pace and he tends to tire his opponents out with his grinding style.

    We can count on Chael to make it through this whole fight without getting tired, but I can't say the same for Stann.

    Brian's never faced a fighter who has the wrestling ability of Sonnen, along with the pace that Chael sets. There's no telling how he'll be able to handle it.

    Edge: Chael Sonnen

Striking

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    Brian Stann is one of the best strikers in the middleweight division. Since entering the 185-pound weight class, Stann has knocked out feared striker Chris Leben, as well as established veteran Jorge Santiago.

    Brian is a kick boxer, but utilizes his punches more than his kicks. You'll usually see Stann throw a few leg kicks in a fight, but his punches are what he threatens with. He also has very good killer instinct once he has his opponent hurt.

    I don't expect we'll see Brian use his kicks much in this one; he'll be worried about getting taken down. Chael doesn't have terrible striking—though it could be better—but it's mostly used to set up takedowns.

    In this fight, any striking Sonnen does will likely be him wading forward with punches, trying to get Stann to move backwards, setting up the takedown.

    Overall, Brian should have a pretty big advantage standing. The former marine has better technique and more power.

    Edge: Brian Stann

Chin

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    Both of these fighters can take a good punch—no doubt about that.

    Stann has only been TKO'd once in his career and it was by a dangerous opponent in the form of Steve Cantwell.

    Chael has never been legitimately knocked out. His only TKO losses have come via a cut and by corner stoppage.

    Based on the stats, it's obvious that both competitors have great chins, but I believe Sonnen's is better. Not only has he never been legitimately knocked out, he has stood toe-to-toe with greatest striker in the history of the sport, Anderson Silva, and walked right through his punches.

    Brian doesn't really need to worry about having a worse chin than Chael, however. Sonnen is not known for his punching power and probably doesn't have enough to put Stann away standing.

    Edge: Chael Sonnen

Grappling

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    Chael Sonnen is the best wrestler in the middleweight division.

    Grappling is arguably the most important factor in this fight when trying to determine the outcome, and also the area where one fighter has the most clear-cut advantage.

    Stann's grappling is respectable, but there is no way that he can out-grapple Chael, who was at one point an alternate for the USA's Olympic Greco-Roman team.

    Sonnen has unstoppable takedowns and great control from the top. He doesn't necessarily do a ton of damage from the top, but he is great at maintaining his position, staying busy, and avoiding reversals.

    Simply put, there is no way that Stann will take Chael down, and if Chael gets a hold of Stann, he will absolutely be able to take him down.

    Edge: Chael Sonnen

Submissions

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    Let's be honest: Sonnen has one of the worst submission games in the middleweight division. He's lost 11 times in his career and eight of those losses have some by submission.

    Stann isn't really known for his jiu-jitsu, but I feel confident that he'll have the advantage here.

    In 2010, Brian showed that he is competent off his back, submitting Mike Massenzio with a triangle choke in the third round.

    It usually takes a pretty good submission fighter to catch Chael in a submission and I don't know if Stann has that kind of jiu-jitsu prowess.

    However, one thing is for sure: Stann has a better chance of submitting Sonnen than Sonnen does of submitting Stann.

    Edge: Brian Stann

Winner?

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    All things considered, I'm predicting Chael Sonnen will have a successful return to the Octagon.

    Ring rust could be a factor for him, given that he's been out of action for over a year, but compared to other fighters, well-conditioned wrestlers usually don't have that much trouble with ring rust.

    We're going to see Chael do the same thing we've seen him do time and time again. He'll charge right through Stann's strikes and get the takedown.

    Once he has Stann down, he'll stay aggressive with ground and pound and avoid being reversed.

    The only thing Sonnen needs to be really worried about is getting caught in a submission, and I don't really think he needs to worry too much about that. If it took Anderson Silva almost five rounds to submit Chael, I don't see Brian doing it in three.

    Stann will likely try and use his footwork to avoid Sonnen's wrestling—using lateral movement rather than moving straight forward and back, but I don't think he'll be able to avoid Chael's takedowns.

    He could catch Sonnen with something standing and get the knockout, but Chael has shown on several occasions that he has a great chin—so I don't see that happening.

    Chael's wrestling will be too much for Stann and that will be the story of this fight.

    Winner: Chael Sonnen via Unanimous Decision

    Andrew Barr is a Featured Columnist for Bleacherreport.com. For updates on what's happening in the world of MMA, follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/AndrewBarr8

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