Click here for Part One of the Caged Insider visit with Brian Stann, the former MMA champ turned broadcaster who will call the action at this Sunday’s UFC Ultimate Fight Night 38.
Yesterday, Stann helped break down the UFN 38 main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson, along with the TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) controversy that has plagued the sport. Today, Stann profiles two other match-ups to look out for this weekend and offers more of his insight regarding Performance Enhancing Drug testing, plus introduces the cause he describes as his full time job: Hire Heroes USA.
Brian Stann feels this Sunday’s UFN 38 event will help, as he puts it, “answer a lot of questions.”
He’s particularly interested in the next two biggest fights on the show, a middleweight bout between CB Dolloway and Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, and the lightweight clash between Norman Parke and Leandro Santos.
“With the co-main, in CB Dollaway, you’ve got a guy who has been around the UFC for a while and hasn’t really made his run yet, and he believes now is his time,” Stann explains. “Cesar ‘Mutante’ has a ton of hype behind him. He’s a guy the UFC wants to promote. He knows the UFC is thinking of him as the next big thing in that division. CB may be fighting with a chip on his shoulder, he may be fighting to prove them wrong.”
The other bout showcases Norman Parke, the winner of TUF: Smashes who is enjoying a nine fight winning streak, including three bouts in the UFC. Northern Ireland’s Parke will face jiu-jitsu standout Leonardo Santos of Brazil, who is moving down to lightweight after winning TUF: Brazil at welterweight.
“Parke is a guy who has an amazing record, on a very tough winning streak,” Stann says. “He’s at a point in his UFC career where he should be comfortable and can take a few more risks. We’ve heard him say he thinks he held back a little bit, because he was still new to the UFC. This is his opportunity to shine: finish a guy and become a guy who gets those big-time match-ups and rise up the rankings.
As for Santos? “He has to show he’s more versatile,” Stann explains. “You can’t be one dimensional in the UFC. He has a big weight cut to make, and we’re going to see how he responds. We’ll see if he still has the strength necessary to take Parke to the ground and submit or control him for three rounds.”
At 34, Santos is also seven years Parke’s senior.
“You have guys who did their best in their mid-30’s,” Stann reflects. “There’s so much technique in the sport, and with some fighters, the technique is even more important than the athletic ability. If you can master a certain amount of technique and your ability to execute a game plan, that can outweigh the benefits of being the stronger, faster guy.”
“It’s going to answer a lot of questions. It’s a big fight for both guys.”
That aside, with TRT controversy on everyone’s minds, Caged Insider asked Stann about the implementing of random drug testing, as is done in the Olympic games.
“The difficulty is going to be the cost. I don’t do the books for the UFC but I know the cost is pretty substantial to do some of that. Whatever the standards are, the most important thing is that the testing become random. The other thing you need to remember, the only place you can test and find some of the most powerful things being used by athletes, are USADA laboratories. If you aren’t using those labs and you’re not testing people randomly, you’re not getting to the source of any problem. ”
“Any time you’ve got a sport, you’re going to find people who take advantage and get around it,” he admits. “That doesn’t mean we should give up on it. I don’t think there’s a 100% solution, but I think the biggest thing, the biggest next step now, is random testing. No matter who does it. It will solve a tremendous part of the problem.”
Stann says the work is in progress.
“It is happening. We saw Alistair Overeem randomly tested, and he has never looked the same since then by the way. We saw it in Rousimar Palhares who is preparing to fight for World Series of Fighting. You’ve got two different entities: the UFC doing their own testing, and sometimes having to play athletic commission in different fights in different countries, and then you have the different athletic commissions. They don’t always see eye to eye in how they’re going to do things. I don’t know enough of their procedures to say what’s best, because I’m neither one. But I do think we’ll continue to see advancements in it. I’m definitely hopeful.”
These developments are happening at the same time as the departure of Georges St-Pierre, who described disappointment at his perception that the UFC did not back up his efforts to improve the sport’s drug testing protocol. Could random drug testing be possible? Could it bring GSP back?
“That may bring Georges St-Pierre back,” Stann answers. “Personally I hope he doesn’t come back. I don’t think there’s any need for him to come back. He has a body of work in this sport which will cement his history in it forever, as possibly the greatest martial artist in history. He’s taken enough damage. He’s taken enough shots to the head. Why risk it? He’s a very healthy, intelligent human being. He made a lot of money, there’s no financial need to. But we’ll see; I’m not him.”
In addition to his work with the UFC and as a college football analyst for FOX, Stann is also CEO of Hiring Heroes USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding job opportunities for US military veterans.
Stann, who was awarded the Silver Star during his days as an active duty US Marine in Iraq, explains:
“Hire Heroes USA is the best veteran employment service in the country. We’re a non-profit organization that helps veterans re-integrate into civilian life in finding a career when they get out of the military. We’re growing rapidly. That’s my main job, to find the support, the partnerships, the relationships necessary to keep going. There’s a huge population of combat veterans transitioning back into society right now, the largest since World War 2, and the economy is tough.”
“There are a lot of obstacles in the way of military veterans,” Stann says. “Every day, we help empower them to overcome those obstacles. There’s nobody in the country that does it better.”
More information on Hire Heroes can be found on their website.