When most people picture retirement, they think of easy days of relaxation, hanging out with family, and likely a trip to the beach. Former UFC fighter Brian Stann is not most people however, and the former Marine Captain remains a very busy man after officially hanging up the gloves last week. Stann recently spoke to MMAFrenzy about his new duties post-retirement, including his new role with FOX Sports as an ACC Football analyst, and his thoughts on this weekend’s UFC on FOX 8 card in Seattle.
After officially announcing your retirement on a special edition of “The MMA Hour,” how has the transition been?
There really was not much of a transition since I made the decision awhile ago. All that really changed was that I took that one part of my life out my schedule. I just decided to make it official since other opportunities arose.
How big of a role did your family, and the distance from Jackson’s MMA, play in your decision to retire?
The option for me to travel and train just didn’t exist. For me, it was just one of those things where you have to make a decision long-term. Was fighting 2-4 years the best thing to provide for my family? So, both health-wise and career-wise it wasn’t a good choice and it made more sense [to retire] when some other opportunities to pursue [arose].
So are you coaching at you gym, Warriors Legion, now?
No, I was doing that. In all honesty, with everything else going on, owning and running a gym was falling low on my priorities. I’m going to be shutting a lot of that down this week, I still help and coach some of the pro fighters out in the Atlanta area like Raphael Assunção, Doug Lima, Diego Lima, and those guys, I’m still involved there. You know as far as being a gym owner, it’s just a tough business unless you’re going to be there every day.
What has been the biggest difference in how you handled the media as a fighter as opposed to how you are now a member of the media?
It’s funny, I put out a tweet this week where I have never felt like media. Doing the fight stuff I never felt like media before, but this week I was at the ACC media day and it was the first time I legitimately felt like media. Everything was just so new and so different, and I’m meeting people and asking questions. It’s going to be a transition, it doesn’t feel the same to me. It’s just different. Working as an [UFC] analyst you feel like you’re one of the guys, rather doing radio or TV where you actually feel like media. It’s going to take some getting used to.
The hardest thing for me, is going to be when I am at the fights, particuarly this weekend. When those guys make that walk, those are the times I miss the most. It’s going to take some to let it settle in that I am not going to do that anymore.
What do you think of the UFC on FOX 8 card, it really seems to be going under the radar with its main event between flyweight champion Demtrious Johnson and John Moraga?
Yeah, it really is! It’s one of those things where a lot of cards go under the radar and once this start going Saturday night and we start going and things start happening, people get excited. They always do. Demetrious Johnson is one of those guys that is so fun to watch and I tell people they need to take dramamine two hours before he fights because you will get motion sickness! I think the UFC on FOX does such a great job the promos and the Road to the Octagon really showcases the fighters in a different light. I really hope it leads to a lot of people tuning in for this card.
Any other match ups that stand out on the card for you? Ellenberger vs. MacDonald? Lawler vs. Voelker?
Jake and Rory is probably the one that is most exciting outside of the main event. You’re seeing a paradigm shift in mixed martial arts in recent years because of what Chael Sonnen’s done and Jake is a pupil of Sonnen. I don’t know if people have realized that with it being behind-the-scenes, but he is. Fighters are starting to realize that they have to make their fight matter. Boxers have done this for years where they go out and promote to sell their fight and Ellenberger has basically done that. He’s fighting a guy he truly does not like, and he has told him ‘I want to fight you’ and he’s been rewarded with Rory wanting to fight him with major title implications between two guys who are really really good. Have to remember, there aren’t a lot of guys calling out Rory MacDonald out right now.
[As for Lawler-Voelker] If you’re a longtime fan you have known about Robbie Lawler for a long time but Robbie is one of those guys that has all of a sudden hit a resurgence in his career by knocking out [Josh] Koscheck. I mean that was a huge win for him and just a few years ago he wasn’t training very very detailed and let himself go, and he looked like he was in the twilight of his career. That happens in MMA, you know there’s just these things that revitalize you. Something happened with Robbie, whether it was in his training or personal life, something really lit that fire again. I mean this is a guy I grew up watching in MMA, before I ever through a punch, I loved watching Lawler’s fights. He’s a good all-round fighter but he’s got real power, that end the fight at any moment power, and if wins impressively on FOX he could get the winner of the Ellenberger-MacDonald fight and who wouldn’t pay to see that?
Any undercard fighters catch your eye?
Michael Chiesa, he’s one of those interesting characters. The thing I like about Michael is that he is not like a Ellenberger or MacDonald, where he is obviously a gifted athlete. He makes things happen through hard, detailed training and has a blue-collared approach to fighting. He is sneaky good, he capitalizes on mistakes and he gets you tired and wears you down. Of course with his family story, he is also easy to root for.
Your former Team Jackson MMA teammate Julie Kedzie will be making her UFC debut this Saturday. Kedzie has long been a pioneer for women’s MMA, how cool is it to see her finally make her Octagon debut?
Julie is a girl I have trained with for many years and she is one of the most passionate fighters I have ever been around. She loves being a fighter and she wore up-and-down she would be in the UFC long before they would have a woman fight there. She is so passionate that she’ll come to tears in practice if she doesn’t perform at the level she expects from herself. She will corner her coaches and demand time of them to work on ‘hey, what did I do wrong here?’ She always wants success and that is the sign of a winner and someone who has overcome a lot of adversity.
Julie has endured some tough losses in her career, especially the loss to Miesha Tate, because she was clearly winning the fight [when she got caught]. It was probably one of the best fights ever. Everything I have seen from Julie in her career just tells me that won’t stop her and it will only make her better. She is always exciting to see fight but I think we’re going to see one heck of a performance from her. I wish this fight was on the main card, I really do. She is going to be a girl who is talked about for a long time. She will go out there and every single punch, kick, takedown, or submission attempt will come from her soul. That is how much she cares about this.
Recently it was announced that you will be joining FOX Sports’ ACC football announcing team this fall. How did you end up landing the job?
It came about in a funny way, it was right before Memorial Day weekend and I am getting ready to get the car with my family to head to Pennsylvania. Now while I’m doing that, my agent calls to say ‘Brian, there’s an opportunity. They’re auditioning for a new analyst on FOX Sports South for the ACC. I convinced the guy to give you a look and allow you to audition. They have a packed schedule and eight other guys are auditioning, but he’ll give you a look. I have high hopes and I think it will be a great experience.’ The very next week I have four days of traveling with my family and very little time to prepare.
The morning of the audition I am shooting for my sponsor Ranger Up, and then I had a board meeting for Hire Heroes USA (charity that I help run), after that I drive right into downtown Atlanta and immediately get right to work [at FOX]. I called the first half of Maryland vs. North Carolina, from last year, and left. I didn’t get any feedback for three weeks, and had figured ‘ok, well it was a great experience’ and it was. I told the head guy when I auditioned that ‘I would never again be as bad as I was today’ because it was my first time calling football and they laughed at that. Three weeks later I got the call and I got the job.
I had already decided to retire [from MMA] at that point. It was just a really nice opportunity to do something else besides my day job, besides the UFC, and I got to branch into another sport. I was really happy and I knew the UFC would be happy because it is only helpful to have their fighters doing other things as well.
You can catch Brian Stann as part of the UFC on FOX studio crew this Saturday and as a part of FOX Sports’ ACC football announcing crew this fall. Stann will also be taking over at the UFC announcing desk for UFC analyst Joe Rogan for the UFC 163 fight card. You can follow the former WEC light heavyweight champion on twitter at @BrianStann.
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