The popular Stann returns to the city of his birth this week, as he gets ready to face former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC on Fuel 8 at "The Axe Murderer's" old stomping grounds, the Saitama Super Arena.
"This is a pretty unique opportunity for me, and, oh, by the way, this is my first time main eventing in the UFC," said Stann. "And I get to fight a guy like Wanderlei Silva, so I'll be a little nostalgic after the fight is over."
During his well-documented stint in the United States Marine Corps, Stann was inspired watching Silva's fights. Stann sees the opportunity to fight the MMA legend as a dream come true.
"There's a certain trait in fighters that I admire," Stann said. "Chuck Liddell had it. If you called Chuck four days before the fight or four months before the fight, he just said yes. And he said yes before he knew the opponent, he was going to come out and he was going to go for the win. And Wanderlei, he's from that same breed of fighters as well. He's a guy that when I was dreaming of one day being a professional fighter who I would watch fights, he was a guy who would just, he was ferocious in the way he fought, but he was still a gentleman, very much a nice guy in the octagon. I always admired that."
Despite spending the past several years as a middleweight, Stann accepted the bout with Silva at 205 pounds. That said, don't expect this to be a permanent move for a fighter who once held the WEC light heavyweight title.
"No," Stann said, when asked about a move back to 205. "It's just because with my style of fighting and the guys who give me the most difficulty going up a weight class and having to wrestle with bigger guys just doesn't make any sense to me. Middleweight, a lot of people tried to neutralize me against the cage and whatever, I've worked very hard at defending that. It makes sense for me to be a bigger, stronger individual to do that."
But the time and place was right for a one-off bout at his old weight class. "I didn't put on any extra weight for this fight," Stann said. "I didn't feel the necessity to do it, I've always been strong, I've always been powerful. I think speed is more important than size against a guy like Wanderlei. The only difference now is I drop 22 pounds the week of the fight, so not having to do that is a major advantage for me. So not having to do that, I wanted to stay the same size, so who knows, six weeks later I could get the call to fight again. I don't want to have to do a massive cut from 225 like I did the first time I made the cut. It's just one of those fight where I consider it a middleweight fight but we just agreed not to cut the weight."
When Stann called into The MMA Hour, it was 4 a.m. Tokyo time. As he tries to adjust to the dramatic time difference, Stann said that he learned from several mistakes made leading up to his fight with UFC on Fuel 2 win over Alessio Sakara last April in Sweden.
"When I went to Sweden, I did the wrong thing," Stann said. "I landed at 10 in the morning, and as soon as I got to the hotel, I just went to bed, and I slept all day long. And that was a problem. Once we got to Wednesday, we got to the open workouts and all the media obligations and I couldn't sleep during the day anymore, which was the cycle my body was on. Before I fought Sakara, I had only slept for about four hours the two days prior, I had some sleeping issues. Luckily things transpired well for me, but, I learned that lesson and I waited at least until nighttime before I went to bed last night. So Japan is easier than Sweden."
Stann, who now trains full-time out of his Atlanta home base, understands the Silva is likely to be the crowd favorite for what could be the legend's final career bout. And he's fine with that.
"When you're a guy like Wanderlei Silva, and you've done what he's done, he deserves to [fight in Japan]," Stann said. "I'm proud to come back out here and fight him, I'm happy he has this moment. I'm sure the fans are happy and anxious for his arrival. The atmosphere is going to be very, very cool."