LAS VEGAS - Brian Stann dealt with an emotional spot beautifully in the opening fight of the UFC 130 pay-per-view. The Marine, fighting on Memorial Day weekend, took out an elite middleweight in Jorge Santiago, by showing off a versatile, powerful stand up attack. Stann floored Santiago with a right hook and landed five more shots on the ground before referee Herb Dean saved the Brazilian at 4:29 of the second round.
"It means so much to win today," Stann said, who received a Silver Star back in 2006 for his heroic efforts in Iraq. "There are people who aren't here anymore. They are the true heroes. I am here thanks to a lot of luck and I'm grateful to be fighting on the biggest stage on earth."
Stann's military is a main focus before every one of his fights. He's so humble that he actually apologized during the prefight press conference and again after the fight.
"The attention that's bestowed upon me is misdirected. It belongs to the active military personnel and those who lost their lives fighting for this country," said Stann.
Based on his success with Japan's Sengoku, Santiago rose into the middleweight top 10 of some MMA polls. But there was also a thought that he was a bit overrated. The sportsbook and betting public in Las Vegas agreed with that assessment. Stann was minus-140 favorite during the week and one-sided action pushed him to a -160 favorite. The way the fight played out, he probably should've been a 3-to-1 favorite.
Santiago had trouble getting into a rhythm on the feet and anytime he went near Stann in a clinch situation, he was overpowered.
On the feet, Stann (11-3, 5-1 UFC) was excellent with his leg kicks. He momentarily dropped Santiago on two occasion with those kicks, but the fight changing blows came with both fists. He landed a left hook with 1:45 left in the first and pounded away on top of Santiago for the rest of the round. In the second, Santiago still looked shaky on the feet and was slow. Stann caught him with a right hook on the side of his head and this time Santiago couldn't recover. Stann pounced and fired away from a standing position. The fifth punch he landed made Santiago go limp.