In the eyes of the average person, MMA fighters are still viewed as thugs, likely sporting a mohawk of some sort, thirsting for violence and covered with tattoos.

Obviously, those of us in the MMA community know that such stereotypes are far from the truth, but the fact is, MMA is still viewed as a sport for young men who drink beer and celebrate knockouts. And while the sport’s reputation is steadily getting better, MMA still needs fighters in the spotlight that not only debunk these stereotypes, but also show the public that most mixed martial artists are down to earth, hardworking and generally good people.

Guys like Georges St-Pierre and Kenny Florian have been serving this purpose for years now, consistently proving that to be an elite fighter in the sport you need to be a disciplined, complete martial artist and not just a thug that has the ability to knock someone else unconscious with a single punch.

And while GSP and Florian have done great things as ambassadors of the sport, there’s another guy on the UFC roster that has ability to completely change the way people view MMA. That man is Brian Stann.

Stann’s military history has been well documented by the MMA media, and his Silver Star has become as notorious as his ability to put on a show inside the cage at this point, making it tough to find anyone who follows MMA that at the very least doesn’t respect Stann as both a fighter and a person.

Throw in the fact that he is one of the most well-spoken athletes in the sport and Stann’s respectable record inside the Octagon, and it’s not hard to see why the UFC loves to feature him in high-profile bouts.

But, when we look past his military credentials and the fact that Stann’s just an all-around good person, we have to consider whether Stann the fighter is actually deserving of all of the big-time fights he’s been getting as of late.

Stann has a solid 4-2 record since dropping to middleweight in 2010, scoring huge knockout wins over the likes of Chris Leben, Jorge Santiago and Alessio Sakara. But when he’s been thrown in the cage with a top contender, he hasn’t quite been able to pull off a victory.

“The All American’s” loss to Chael Sonnen back at UFC 136 proved that Stann was far from being an elite fighter at 185 pounds. Sonnen was able to avoid Stann’s punching power by continuously dragging the former WEC light heavyweight champion to the mat, completely neutralizing the ex-Marine’s offense and eventually putting him away with a submission in the second round.

A close loss to Michael Bisping last September killed any chance of Stann breaking into the middleweight title picture, and it cast serious doubts about Stann’s ability to stay relevant in a crowded pool of middleweight contenders. Bisping is mostly known for his stand-up game, and he showed some it off against Stann, but “The Count” was most effective when he mixed in the occasional takedown. The Brit was able to get Stann to the mat almost at will during their bout. Granted, Bisping’s wrestling skills are underrated and have been for most of his career, but in a division filled with tough wrestlers like Chris Weidman, Yushin Okami and Mark Munoz, it’s hard to imagine Stann getting on a roll and earning a title fight at this point in his career.

Still, Stann remains in the main event scene, and it’s likely going to stay that way for two reasons.

The first is obviously his marketability and the positive image he displays about MMA to the casual viewer. The second is Stann’s ability to produce a highlight-reel knockout at any moment.

Being a knockout artist can get a fighter into high-profile bouts almost as easily as going on a long winning streak, and when Stann knocked out one of the original fan-favorite brawlers in Leben a few years ago, he made a strong case to be heavily featured on every card he competes on from here on out.

Following the win over Leben, Stann was given a very winnable fight against the knockout-prone Jorge Santiago on Memorial Day weekend, and since that time Stann has only been in high-profile fights. Despite being just 1-2 in his last three trips to the Octagon, Stann finds himself in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8 this weekend, and win or lose, he’s probably going to get another decent match-up for his next trip to the cage.

At 32 years old, the prime of Stann’s career could be coming to a close, especially since he doesn’t mind getting into a slugfest or two, and at this point it seems pretty clear that “The All American” isn’t likely to fight for a UFC title anytime soon. However, it’s impossible to fault the UFC for putting him in advantageous situations due to his overall character and entertaining fighting style.

Does Brian Stann deserve to be in the main event of this weekend’s UFC on Fuel card? Probably not. There’s a fun scrap between two streaking heavyweights in Stefan Struve and Mark Hunt that could easily take its place. And although Stann is moving up to light heavyweight for this bout, there’s a fight between Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard, both of whom are ranked ahead of Stann in his normal weight class, sitting a few notches below “The All American’s” fight on the main card.

Despite all of these factors, you won’t find many complaining about Stann’s placement on UFC cards. Unless he starts to head on a long losing streak, he’s likely going to stay in the spotlight. The fact is, Brian Stann is good for MMA. The longer the UFC can highlight Stann and other fighters like him, the better it is for the sport and its fans.

Photo: Brian Stann (R) throws a flying knee (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.