For Brian Stann, MMA is about the journey

Link to Article: http://blogs.chron.com/fighting/2010/07/for_brian_stann_its_about_the.html

Brian Stann is an American hero. A real, true-life American hero. It’s not a marketing ploy or publicity stunt — Stann is the real deal.

Stann, a former Marine officer, was ambushed with his unit in Iraq while trying to capture a bridge near Karabilah. Under heavy attack from insurgents, Stann and his group of soldiers held out for six days while Stann coordinated air and tank support that eventually led to the unit being relieved. He was awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest American honor for bravery.

But Stann says he’s not the real hero.

“Being honest — and this is really something that I reveal in my book — I don’t want to say this in a way that discredits the award. I had several Marines during that operation who were permanently injured. A young man by the name of Jonathan Lowell will never walk again. Another young man had multiple brain surgeries that will affect him for the rest of his life,” Stann says. “It’s awkward for me to be awarded for something like that, because in all honesty, I think about those days often and wonder what I could have done differently to avoid some of those situations, to not have some of those men hurt. Luckily they weren’t killed, but there are still some very, very serious injuries that guys who were under my leadership are going to have to live with the rest of their lives.”

Stann’s book, “Heart For The Fight,” will be released in September. It details his time in Iraq as well as his evolution as a fighter. It’s an honest account from a fighter actually making a difference in the lives of others through his Hire Heroes USA organization. The organization helps secure jobs for soldiers transitioning out of the Army — a much more difficult task than you’d think.

“A lot of these employers, when they get a veteran in front of them to interview of they get a veteran’s resume, they are dealing with things they are unfamiliar with. It’s natural for people to stray away from that. Part of what we do is to try and recruit companies and familiarize them with the skillsets,” Stann says. “We show them that they aren’t doing a charitable deed by hiring a veteran — you’re actually making an investment in a young man or women that has been infused with certain tangible skills that you can’t get out of college graduates.”

Stann faces Mike Massenzio at next Sunday’s “UFC on Versus 2” card in San Diego. It will be Stann’s debut at middleweight, a decision he made after feeling like he couldn’t match power with others in the light heavyweight division. A one-sided loss to phenom wrestler Phil Davis earlier this year sealed his decision.

“On a personal level, I think that in the first round, once he took me down, his base was incredible. I realized I couldn’t get up. Phil was known as a great rider in college, and that was exactly what he was doing to me,” Stann says. “He has excellent top control. In the second and third rounds, I really concerned myself with what he was doing instead of my own offense, and that allowed him the advantage the rest of the way.”

He’s a busy man, but Stann says the challenge of fighting and helping others are what drives him.

“It was never something that I said I wanted to do for a living. I always look at it as a journey. I’ve always maintained a full-time job because I have to. I have two children. I can’t afford to take a chance and then I get hurt, and suddenly I have nothing to fall back on,” he says. “I’m not driven by the fame or any of that stuff. I don’t care about endorsement deals or if I’m on the undercard or the main card. It’s about the journey.”

Posted by Jeremy Botter at July 21, 2010 06:48 PM