UFC 136 preview: Can Brian Stann take out Chael Sonnen to earn a potential title shot?

Brian Stann(left) will face Chael Sonnen at UFC 136

The UFC 136 event that will take place this weekend in Houston, Texas, will feature a very important matchup between middleweights Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann. Sonnen has been out of action for over a year since losing to Anderson Silva, but a win here could grant him the rematch that most people want to see. Stann could insert himself into the title picture with the upset win as well. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

Brian Stann comes into this fight with a career record of (11-3) with 8 wins via TKO/KO and 1 win via submission. Stann was last seen in action last May as he blasted through Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago. Stann is a large middleweight with good power in his strikes and a pretty good chin. However, he has had issues with powerful wrestlers/grapplers in the past but has improved his takedown defense over the past year or so.

Chael Sonnen comes into this fight with a career record of (25-11) with 7 wins via TKO/KO and 3 wins via submission. Sonnen was last seen in action at UFC 117 as he dominated Anderson Silva for 4 rounds before getting submitted with a minute or so left in the fight. Sonnen is an elite wrestler with an underrated striking game and a very good chin. However, the one gaping hole in his game has always been submission defense as 8 of his 11 losses are via submission.

Bet on Fighting has Sonnen as the betting favorite at (-255) and Stann as the underdog at (+205).

I agree with those odds. I liken this fight to the Nate Marquardt fight for Sonnen in that he’ll be facing a powerful guy that can be taken down but does have power in his strikes. I would say that Stann is probably more powerful than Marquardt, but Marquardt has the better overall submission game. Sonnen was successful in that fight by applying constant pressure on Marquardt and implementing double leg takedowns with ground and pound from the guard position.

He should be able to execute a similar gameplan against Stann who hasn’t done well against good wrestlers in the past. The thing about Sonnen is that he has enough striking ability that you have to respect it and that helps him set up his takedowns. The only concern for Sonnen is the lengthy layoff since the fight with Silva, but I have to think he’ll be in shape and ready to go. There’s always a chance of Stann landing a big punch that could hurt Sonnen with Stann finishing him after hurting him. However, I expect Sonnen to come right after Stann and push the pace with the fear of a takedown causing Stann to hesitate with his strikes.

Stann has shown the ability to land a submission(one) off his back and Sonnen has been known to ‘fall into’ submissions in the past. The chances of that happening here are pretty low though as Stann would probably be too busy defending short elbows and punches to try and setup a submission. I also don’t believe that Stann will want to play the guard game as he’ll probably be looking to get right back up to his feet if and when he is taken down.

The long layoff could be detrimental to Sonnen, but ultimately I think his wrestling will be the difference in this fight. I think he’ll take Stann down each round and grind out a decision setting up an epic rematch with Anderson Silva early next year.