Brian Stann finishing Jorge Santiago
In a matchup that all fight fans will be talking about at the water cooler on Monday, the proverbial goat Chael Sonnen battles the former Marine and hard-hitting Brian "The All-American" Stann in this middleweight contest.
Most notably known for either his loathing of the entire country of Brazil, any Brazilian named Silva, his attempted run for state representative in Washington, his legal issues outside of the Octagon or his near capture of the middleweight championship back in August of 2010, Sonnen is a polarizing figure for the UFC.
Either you hate Chael Sonnen or you love him.
What is not in question, however, is Sonnen's ability inside the Octagon. Founded on his wrestling pedigree, Sonnen is 25-11-1 as a professional fighter with losses to top-tier talent including the aforementioned Silva, Demian Maia and Forrest Griffin.
With a 61 percent successful takedown rate and delivering a crushing 265 strikes on the ground, Sonnen's approach to this matchup will fall in line with his previous fights: take the fight to the ground and deliver a brutal ground-and-pound attack.
Unheralded for his stand-up striking ability, Sonnen has developed very solid boxing skills, which open up numerous takedown opportunities.
Defending the takedown at a 60 percent rating, Stann has improved in his grappling abilities since his drop to the middleweight division.
A powerful, exacting striker, "The All-American" has expanded his offensive arsenal to include rib-cracking knee strikes and nose-shattering punches.
Looking to keep this fight standing, Stann will keep his range from Sonnen and utilize straight punches and powerful knees to combat the takedown attempts of Sonnen.
Considering that this matchup is the middleweight contender bout and the winner will be next in line to challenge Silva for the title, both competitors will take chances inside the Octagon to secure a victory.
Even though Sonnen is an outstanding grappler and will secure numerous takedowns against Stann, I believe that Stann's improvements under Greg Jackson and the development of his ground game will ensure his safety off his back.
Possessing an advantage in the stand-up striking department, Stann will find his range against Silva and eventually drop the Washington native with a hard right hand, opening the door for a TKO victory.
Securing the No. 1 contender ranking, Stann will ultimately challenge Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight championship.
Winner: Brian Stann via Round 3 TKO