Brian Stann rocks Jorge Santiago

Brian Stann rocks Jorge Santiago

Middleweights in the UFC have a new threat when it comes to guys who are capable of making noise in the division. Brian Stann, with his TKO win over Jorge Santiago at UFC 130, cemented this notion.

With the win, Stann continues his climb up the middleweight ranks and does so in impressive fashion. By the end of 2011, he’ll make it his focus to be in the mix for 185-pound title contention.

“To be the number one contender,” Stann said when answering questions on what goal he’d like to accomplish by year’s end. “To put myself in position where I can fight for the title one day. Really, that’s as much in the Octagon as it is in the gym. I think I’m still about two years out until you see the best Brian Stann there can be.

“I know that there are still so many areas that I can continue to get better and I think that makes it dangerous for anybody else that’s going to fight me.”

Scary thought: Stann is yet to reach his peak at this weight class. His recent success is a contrast to his last five fights in his former weight class at light heavyweight.

Despite going undefeated in his first six professional fights – all of which were at 205 pounds – Stann found himself at a hurdle he just couldn’t get over, going 2-3 in his following five outings. In his last bout at light heavyweight, he gave up a tough loss to former up-and-comer and current talk-of-the-town Phil Davis. The fight was his third in a row to go to a decision.

This seemed to be the turning point of Stann’s career and the drop to middleweight occurred shortly thereafter.

Some wondered how the Jackson-trained fighter would fare against fighters that were quicker and faster. If there were any doubts about his effectiveness at 185 pounds, a majority of those questions have been answered in his last three fights.

Three fights at middleweight; all decisive wins and against quality opposition.

Brian Stann lays out Jorge Santiago

Brian Stann lays out Jorge Santiago

Against a seasoned jiu-jitsu practitioner in Mike Massenzio, Stann displayed impressive ground work and was able to slap on a triangle, besting his opponent at his own game. Chris Leben, a fighter who is known for being able to take a punch or two, fell victim to Stann’s strikes. This is especially impressive, since in 17 UFC fights, the only other fighter to finish Leben with strikes in a similar way is the division’s current champion, Anderson Silva.

Finally, Stann’s recent domination of the last Sengoku middleweight champion, Jorge Santiago, is confirmation that he means business and nerves don’t play a role, no matter who stands across him in the Octagon on any given night.

The move down to 185 pounds is probably the best thing Brian Stann did for his career. No other middleweight has left a greater path of destruction en route to a showdown with champion Anderson Silva.

Of course, other fighters have won more fights at middleweight and deserve a shot sooner than Stann, but next to none have obliterated their opposition like he has since making his debut in the weight class.

One or two more wins like the ones fans have witnessed and they can expect to watch an “All-American” take on a “Spider” for UFC gold.

Got something to say? Weigh in with a thought of your own in the comments section below.

Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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@Erik_Fontanez on Twitter or e-mail Erik a question or comment.

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