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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Michael Bisping and Brian Stann have a lot to fight for on Saturday night at UFC 152. Though just the third fight from the top, the bout is nonetheless an important fight for not only the fighters, but the middleweight division as well. Along with December's Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch and Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami bouts, Bisping-Stann will help the UFC sort out its middleweight picture as Anderson Silva eyes a bout with GSP next year.
In advance of the bout, the UFC sought out a take on the fight from a man who has firsthand experience against both fighters: Chael Sonnen. The self-proclaimed "American Gangster" fought and defeated both men within the last year, and this week he gave his thoughts on the matchup.
"This is a main event fight anywhere in the world; let me start by saying that," Sonnen said, in comments released by the UFC. "This is an A-list main event on any card anywhere. And secondly, this is a fight that Bisping isn't used to. Brian Stann is not afraid to strike with him and has a lot more power than Michael has. You don't have to be an avid fan to realize the fact Stann hits a lot harder than Bisping."
"And that isn't a knock on Mike. He hits plenty hard. He hurt me bad in our first round with a right hand and I looked at him thinking 'You have no idea how bad you just hurt me'. And Dan Henderson called me up the day before I fought Mike and said 'Don't believe the stuff about Bisping not being able to punch – he hits hard'. And he does – but Stann buzzed me with the draft of one of his shots and is a completely different animal. Brian Stann – uniquely I think in the UFC - can knock any middleweight or light heavyweight out with one shot."
Sonnen expects an exciting and competitive fight between the two middleweight competitors, but ultimately believes Stann's power punching is too much of an advantage over a three round fight. Because of that, he's expecting Stann to come out on top in Toronto.
"I love the fight. Stann is not afraid to get hit and Bisping will certainly hit him," Sonnen commented. "Bisping is very hard to land on and he's very wiry, so I expect Mike to have some success early. Neither guy is going to have to worry about a fast pace because they are always in shape and they both are going to go after it."
"But I come back to this: Stann is a plant your feet and throw bombs kinda guy. And I think 15minutes is a long time for Bisping to avoid those bombs. I'm not one of those guys who is going to say 'Bisping should win – but IF Stann lands it is over.' I am the guy saying 'Stann WILL land a bomb and he will win this fight by KO.' He will find the shot 100%."
Penick's Analysis: It's an interesting take, considering Bisping gave Sonnen a considerably tougher fight in January than Stann did last year. Still, there's definitely logic behind the idea of Stann's power winning out in this fight. Bisping has been knocked out cold in his career - Stann has, as well - but of the two it's Stann who has proven himself as more of a finisher. Whether that plays out the same in this fight will be determined come Saturday, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Stann earn a knockout win in this one.
[Chael Sonnen art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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