Sunday, May 29, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Brian Stann delivered one of the most impressive performances Saturday during UFC 130 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The middleweight recorded a second-round TKO victory against Jorge Santiago, flooring the Brazilian with a solid right hand and immediately applying pressure on the ground with several blows to the face until the fight was stopped. It was one of the Fights of the Night, earning Stann a $70,000 bonus.
While being interviewed in the octagon following his win, Stann showed why UFC President Dana White feels he has what it takes to be one of the UFC’s future stars.
Stann, a retired Marine who was awarded the Silver Star for safely directing his unit during an ambush in Iraq, brought the crowd of more than 12,000 fans to their feet by saluting members of the armed forces after the win. It was a fitting tribute on Memorial Day weekend.
“For all of those families out there who have lost someone in combat, this weekend is all about you,” Stann said. “So please everybody take some time this weekend to thank those who sacrificed all for our freedoms.”
Stann, who retired in 2008 with the rank of captain, fought to chants of “USA, USA” all night. Additionally, his black shorts were loaded with sponsorships for military — home mortgages and employment issues for veterans.
“He is on his way to becoming a superstar,” White said. Chuck (Liddell, the UFC’s vice president of business development) came up to me tonight after the fight and said: ‘You know when he used to fight in WEC, I never thought he would get to this level. This guy is getting really good. Not only are his skills getting better, everything out of this guy’s mouth is a home run.'”
Stann also dominated the first round, winning 10-9 on all three judges’ scorecards and controlled the pace. With about 1:45 left in the round, he was able to bring Santiago to the ground and land a few clean blows.
It was a perfect example of the strides Stann has made. He changed weight classes from light heavyweight to middleweight last February and continues to impress. He improved to 11-3 with eight wins coming by TKO.
Stann wasn’t the only fighter to win by a knockout. Heavyweight Travis Browne was awarded the Knockout of the Night for his first-round knockout of Stefan Struve, a highlight-reel KO where Browne’s perfectly timed right not only floored Struve, it nearly knocked him unconscious.
“No question on what Knockout of the Night was: Travis Browne,” White said.
Struve, who stands 6 feet, 11 inches, provided a matchup problem for the 6-foot-7 Browne — a rare fight against a taller opponent. After the two exchanged leg kicks early, Browne finally took advantage of an opening and delivered the knockout blow with less than a minute left in the round.
“It is so hard to fight someone who is 6-11 with finding your range and all that kind of stuff. It is definitely an adjustment,” Browne said.