UFC 136 – In Depth: Chael Sonnen vs Brian Stann

Preview by: Ragan McDaniel

Back when Strikeforce came to Houston last year, we introduced our in depth breakdown format. With UFC 136 approaching, we thought it would be a good idea to roll it out one again and give you an in depth breakdown of all the main card fights to give you an idea what to look for at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.

A battle of top middleweights trying to work their way to a shot at Anderson Silva, Sonnen for a second time. Stann has been just dominant since dropping down to middleweight. Sonnen has been inactive due to legal issues and a suspension for performance enhancers since his loss to Anderson Silva in August of last year.

Pictures courtesy of Sherdog.com and UFC.com

Chal Sonnen Name Brian Stann
Nickname All-American
6’1” Height 6’1″
185 Weight 185
25-11-1 Record 11-3
Portland, OR Out Of Jacksonville, NC
Anderson Silva (L-Sub) Nate Marquardt (W-U. Dec)Yushin Okami (W -U. Dec) Last Three Fights Jorge Santiago (W-TKO) Chris Leben (W- TKO)Mike Massenzio (W- Sub)

The only place that Stann has a distinct advantage.  Even though Sonnen does have KO power, Stann has proved that he can do what others haven’t been able to by KO’ing Leben and then doing the same to Santiago.  Stann has won 8 of his 11 victories by KO or TKO.

 check_advantage SPEED:

Sonnen has proven that he can move quick enough to avoid the big blows and also time his shots so that he uses his speed to his advantage to get his opponent to the ground.  Sonnen controlled the fight against Silva for 4 rounds, who is one of the fastest strikers in MMA.  Stann showed his problems handling speed when he last lost to Phil Davis.


Unless Stann has worked on extensively on getting off his back and to his feet, this is where the fight will be won for Sonnen.  Chael has out wrestled guys such as Marquardt, Silva, Okami, and Miller…all of which are better wrestlers than Stann.  This is the biggest advantage of the fight and will be the main game plan for Sonnen.


Neither fighter has fought much from the clinch, but I give a small advantage to Stann because of his strength on his feet. Stann always poses a KO threat with his heavy hands, so if they do clinch up and Sonnen is not able to drop for a takedown, Stann could beat him up a little while clinched.  I don’t think this category will result in a win or loss for either fighter, but I do give a small advantage to Stann simply because of his KO power.

 check_advantage GROUND:

Defending the takedown has been the achilles heel for Stann since he began his MMA career.  This is another huge advantage for Sonnen, even though Chael does have a problem defending submissions at times.  He will not be facing a submission specialist when he fights Stann and will use his superior wrestling and ground strength to keep the fight there and do just enough so the ref does not stand them up.

check_advantage CARDIO:

Stann has only been to a decision 3 times and it took until his 9th fight to get past the 2nd round.  On the other hand, Sonnen is 15-1 in fights that have gone the decision against some of the top fighters in the world.  If this fight gets out of the 1st round, look for Sonnen to use his superior cardio and control this ground fight, allowing him to rest when he needs to.


Sonnen def. Stann by unanimous decision


Stann’s KO power is always a threat in any fight, but Sonnen is not going to stand and bang with him.  Look for Sonnen to use his crisp jabs to keep Stann at a distance then take the fight to the ground when he’s ready.  Stann couldn’t stop takedowns from far less superior grapplers, so he will definitely struggle with a world class wrestler in Chael Sonnen.  Another ground-out victory for Sonnen to get him ready for his rematch with Silva.