There was a clear difference in Brian Stann's game not long after he became a member of Jackson's MMA. The former Marine Corps hero reeled off consecutive victories over Mike Massenzio, Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago and suddenly had the look of a legitimate title contender.
Much of that was due to the work of coach Greg Jackson, who helped refine Stann's striking and improve his overall game.
Stann is still a member of Team Jackson, but he trained for his Saturday bout against Alessio Sakara at home in Atlanta and not in Albquerque, N.M., under the watchful eye of Jackson.
Stann's brother-in-law died two days before Christmas, a loss that hit Stann's wife, Teresa, very hard. Stann chose to stay and train in Atlanta for the Sakara fight rather than leaving his wife to grieve alone.
Instead of hands-on training from Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, Stann sent tapes of his training session for them to break down.
"Life happened and when it does, you have to deal with it," said Stann, who is coming off a submission loss at UFC 136 to Chael Sonnen. "It's been a really difficult time for my family and it just wouldn't have been right for me to fly away and leave them by themselves.
"I have to earn a living, but I also need to be there to take care of and support my family. I could train in Atlanta. There are a lot of good guys here and make the best of the situation."
Stann said he never asked the UFC to either postpone his bout or to move him off the Saturday card and put him on the UFC 145 card, which will be held April 21 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
The UFC is making its first stop in Sweden on Saturday night and Stann didn't want to back out of that.
"If the UFC comes and asks me to be the co-main event on a card, they're my employers and if they need me to do something, that's what I'll do," Stann said. "I was honored they'd ask me to be on that card on the first trip [to Sweden] and so I'll go there and represent myself and the UFC the best way I know how."
• The UFC has a significant problem on its hands if the Nevada Athletic Commission doesn't license Alistair Overeem in a hearing on April 24 in Las Vegas. Overeem is slated to challenge Junior dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 146 at the MGM Grand. Overeem had an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio of 14:1. If he's not licensed, as it looks like he will not be, there is no good alternative for the UFC.
• A group of fans have begun a campaign on Twitter, using the hash tag #RallyforMarkHunt, in an effort to get Mark Hunt the shot at dos Santos. Hunt had lost six in a row before a three-fight winning streak over Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo. It's not nearly enough for a guy with an 8-7 record to get a title shot and the UFC would water down its belt if it gave Hunt the match.
[ Related: Who should get the next shot at Junior dos Santos? ]
• Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren has terrific wrestling skills, but until his standup becomes more refined he's never going to be in the upper echelon of MMA welterweights.
• Ratings keep going down for "The Ultimate Fighter: Live," with fewer than 1 million viewers watching Michael Chiesa's win over Jeremy Larsen. It's the day of the week, not the product, which has to change. Friday simply is the worst day possible to attract a large audience.
• Good for the California State Athletic Commission, which denied an appeal from Cris "Cyborg" Santos to cut her suspension for using an anabolic steroid from a year to six months. In a sport where one can literally kill an opponent, using steroids to artificially enhance one's power and strength is a serious violation.
READERS ALWAYS WRITE
Is Zuffa really against steroids usage?
Are we to truly believe that Zuffa and the UFC really care about performance enhancing drug usages by its biggest stars after it was them who applied for Overeem's Nevada license after he was caught red-handed ingesting huge amounts of testosterone? They've made the right noises in the past by suspending Chris Leben after a positive test, but as soon as a potential cash cow gets busted, they're happy to ignore his blatant cheating and try to get him pushed through the system. The fact they haven't requested the B sample shows that Overeem is holding his hands up – fair cop! It just seems UFC president Dana White's one-rule-for-one attitude is rearing its ugly head again.
I don't think the UFC is promoting steroid usage among its athletes. But I don't think they're all that angered by it, either. Overeem deserves due process and the right to explain the elevated T/E ratio, but the UFC needs to take a strong stance on such matters and not simply lay things at the hands of the various commissions.
UFC should condone steroid usage
Why would the UFC want to spend the time and money it will take to enact a comprehensive performance enhancing drug policy? If any sport should embrace PEDs, it's MMA. You have caged beasts looking to kick the crap out of one another. Why would you want to take any edge away from one of these competitors? The American public has been trained by the media to think PEDs, especially androgenic anabolic steroids, are bad. Yet, the public wants to see he-men breaking Olympic records, bashing 60-70 home runs and, all-in-all, just plain kicking butt. How long does the average UFC fighter's career last, three or four years? Dana White should realize he needs to let these men do what it takes to keep that career alive. His business will only benefit from it.
New London, Wis.
Colin, that's one of the most bizarre stances you could possibly have taken. But sadly, you're not the only one. Well, there are a number of reasons why Zuffa needs to eradicate steroids from the game. First, forget the fighting. Look at the documented history of what prolonged steroid usage will do to a person. If you don't remember, check what happened to Lyle Alzado. Or read Steve Courson's chilling tale from 1985 in Sports Illustrated. Maybe you are correct and fans want to see more homers and broken records and the like, but the vast majority wants to see that done legally. And, finally, you say that steroid use is good for White's business. I'll just say this to that: If a fighter dies from injuries in a match and it turns out the opponent tests positive for steroids, that likely will kill the UFC.
[ Kevin Iole: It's time the UFC stepped up drug testing ]
Overeem clearly on PEDs
I am a former collegiate All-American in swimming, qualified for the Olympic Trials and spent years in the fitness business. I have graduate work in food science and nutrition and know about athletes, training, and what it takes to illicit any physical response from the human body due to the demands of any training regimen. If anyone has followed Alistair Overeem's career, they could immediately identify that he has used performance enhancing drugs to get to the size he is.
In the span of less than two years, he put on 60 pounds of lean muscle mass, and was much leaner fighting at 265 than he ever was at 205. All anyone has to do is look at his old tapes.
Now, that being said, I do not disagree with athletes at that level using testosterone. We use many over-the-counter blends to offset the demands of heavy training and the associated injuries that may occur when competing at the highest levels. It's intrinsic in the highest levels of athletes to train and compete at levels that demand assistance beyond our body's ability to provide it. If we are simply providing our body a substance that is readily available to anyone who requests it, how is it an unfair advantage?
Let's not go down the path of purporting to be so concerned about the athlete's health. Seriously, I was 10 years old, swimming two hours a day for five days per week, up to 8,000 yards per workout. I competed in swim meets nearly every weekend. Let's talk about every other sport and the demands placed on the athletes at the highest levels. Who is really concerned about their health? It's purely and simply only about who wins, who is most competitive, who lasts the longest, who will be named the greatest. That is it.
Eric, in this country, one needs evidence to prove a crime and there is none yet. I agree his size increase looks suspicious, but until he came with an elevated T/E ratio, Overeem had passed every test given him previously. There is a line not to be crossed. Most people don't take supplements; elite athletes do. I'm not against banning supplements. I'm against illegal supplements and drugs, which many athletes, including MMA fighters, are taking. And yes, I care about the athletes' health and I don't care about records they set while chemically enhanced.
Simple answer to testing
Kevin, don't you think a better solution than two random tests a year is to simply test the fighters: 1) when they sign the fight agreement, 2) halfway through their training camp, and then 3) just before the fight as normal. Costs may be high, but guys are more likely to be using to heal injuries during a training camp than to just bulk up between fights, don't you think? I think focused testing would be a lot more effective than all the random testing in the world.
Joe, random unannounced testing is the best way, because if the athlete never knows when he or she is going to be tested, there is no way to cycle and try to "beat" the test. I'm for as much testing as possible, but there needs to be a random component involved. And the cost you'd be talking about would be astronomical. Let's assume there are 12 fights on a UFC card. That means in your scenario there are three tests for every fighter for every show. That's 72 tests per show, and over 2,100 tests per year, assuming 30 fight cards a year. It's unfeasible.
"There were no surprises. Zero. You couldn't have hand-picked a worse style match for me than Chael. It is what it is. It didn't go my way." – UFC middleweight Brian Stann on his last opponent, Chael Sonnen. Sonnen submitted Stann at UFC 136 in October.
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