The team of analysts for the UFC on Fox Sports 1 and Fox broadcasts has been providing the most in-depth coverage that mixed martial arts has seen in its 20 years of existence.
With a collection of seasoned fight veterans and a handful of well-versed hosts at the helm, the people working the pre- and post-fight shows for the UFC have consistently raised the bar.
It's getting to the point where there appears to be very little Brian Stann can't do.
The former WEC light heavyweight champion went from throwing leather with some of the best in the world to working analysis duty for ACC football and then to finessing the booth for UFC on Fox Sports 1 and Fox events. Not to mention he serves his full-time duties for his company Hire Heroes, which works to find employment for military veterans.
That said, the man has a busy schedule yet decided to once again drop into the Bleacher Report fold and work our latest installment "Dropping Knowledge." It can't be an easy job working alongside Kenny Florian's legendary coif, but much like everything else, "The All-American" makes things look easy.
This is what he had to say about the upcoming card for UFC Fight Night 36 on Saturday.
While we always kick things off with the main event, this time around it's going to be different. This matchup between Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi is a check on my personal bucket list, and I still can't believe this fight is about to go down. How crazy is this fight, and what are the keys for both men to secure victory?
This is a very intriguing fight and a dream matchup, but I'm concerned about the 10-month layoff of Mousasi. When you are fighting a guy like Machida, you have to be as sharp as possible in every aspect of your game. Ring rust can be a very real thing.
Now, Mousasi did bring in some guys for this camp who have defeated Machida in some karate matches in the past, and it could get very interesting, but we don't know what kind of Machida we are going to get. He was really fed up after the Phil Davis fight because he kept ending up at these controversial decisions. Whether he won or lost, there was always controversy, and a lot of it had to do with his style. He was doing just enough to win a round, and sometimes that went against him.
He obviously came out more aggressive in his last fight against Munoz, and I think his level of aggression and offense will be the biggest factor in this fight. It will also depend on how Mousasi responds to it. He could come out prepared for a more aggressive Machida, or he could come out prepared for more of that counter-fighting style.
If it is a counter-fighting style, then Mousasi has to put a lot of volume on Machida and use movement and feints to disrupt the rhythm of Machida. Lyoto moves and moves until he sees the opening and then he strikes. A lot of movement and feints will disrupt that style, and a lot of volume will deceive the judges. Maybe Machida will land the more significant strikes in the round, but Mousasi could throw so much more that he'll win the round.
Another thing people really aren't talking about in this fight is Machida's sumo background. He is a master of range and can close distance quickly, but his sumo background will allow him to get inside and use those body locks and trip takedowns. He's done that many times before where he will get his opponents on their back and has really done a nice job of controlling them on the ground. We may see Machida go for some takedowns in this fight to solidify winning the round because he learned a few things from that Phil Davis fight. We may see him use a similar strategy on Saturday night.
Mousasi has been a fascinating fighter ever since he put himself on the map several years back. One thing I've definitely picked up on, though, is his willingness to fight up to his competition. It's like a distance runner who is a level above everyone he's competing with, but willing to run with the pack until the final stretch of the last lap until he outkicks everyone to the finish. Machida is a different type of animal, and do you think Mousasi's straightforward approach could put him in jeopardy in this fight?
It really can because a straightforward approach is what Machida thrives off of. Mousasi has to switch things up and disrupt Machida in this fight.
A great example is Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. He doesn't have a whole lot that he throws at you, but his pace is unpredictable. Out of nowhere, Rampage will explode on you, go a little wild and get really physical. That threw Machida off in their fight, and Mousasi is going to have to mix things up like that to win this fight.
But he can't be overaggressive because the minute you get overaggressive and come straight at Machida; that is when he lays you out. You have to work a lot of movement and feints and get Machida to twitch a little bit, and that is when you can land strikes.
I think leg kicks are very important in this fight. Machida has a tendency to lean back to slip getting hit, but when he does that, he leaves his legs wide open. Mousasi can rack up some points like Shogun did and wear Machida's legs down over time. I think it would be important for Mousasi to do that and at the end of his striking combinations, finish with a leg kick.
Before we move onto the co-main event, I want to ask an important question regarding Machida vs. Mousasi. While both men have been champions before, neither has been much of a spark plug when it comes to interaction with the fanbase. Machida showed some emotion after winning the light heavyweight title, but Mousasi typically looks like they rolled him out of bed 15 minutes before the fight. Who wins the enthusiasm award in this pairing?
It's definitely Machida. When you look at his speech after he won the title, you'll see all the evidence you need. Kenny Florian and I were having a lot of laughs about it this week in the studio. I know English is his second language—and I know what he meant—but if you listen to what he says it sounds like, "If you have a dream. Go ahead. It's impossible!" His adrenaline was obviously sky high, and that was just the result of his accent coming through. He was pretty motivated in that moment, and you have to give the enthusiasm crown to him.
As an analyst, I'm sure researching the fighter's names on Brazilian cards is something you invest a fair amount of time in. That said, how much fun is it to say "Jacare" over and over?
Oh man, it's great name, especially when he starts throwing the alligator chomp and starts jogging in place. It's great.
Let's not forget his post-fight victory celebration where he alligator crawls across the mat. Do you think people realize the type of upper body and core strength that requires?
Look...this guy is the scariest thing in the middleweight division right now. You can look around at 185 pounds, and the one guy people don't want to get a call from Joe Silva asking them to fight is Jacare Souza. Nobody wants to fight him right now. This guy is so dangerous and everything is coming together for him. He's ultra-aggressive and on fire right now. But he's also one of the least appreciated fighters in the division as well. A lot of people are talking about Machida getting a title shot with a win, but I personally think if he can get an impressive win here, it's honestly Jacare who deserves the shot the most.
There is a lot of talk right now about the improvements Souza has made to his striking game. You spoke on this topic during UFC Tonight on Wednesday, pointing out how no one has ever been able to do what the Brazilian powerhouse did to Yushin Okami when they fought. How crazy is Souza's power game at this moment?
I've trained with Yushin before, and nobody does that to him. Absolutely nobody. Jacare is one of the scariest guys in the world when the fight hits the mat. Out of nowhere he's also become one of the scariest guys in the division when it comes to striking as well. He knocks you out cold on your feet, then rips your arm off when the fight hits the ground.
His opponent Francis Carmont has been effective in the UFC and has a solid winning streak going. That said, the knock on the Tristar fighter is that his performances haven't been of the crowd-wowing variety. While that may be the case, could he actually have the perfect style to give Souza problems?
He absolutely does, and this fight is going to be a little bit closer than people realize. Carmont is a physically huge middleweight, and he is going to have distance and range with his reach. He is a very large individual, and his style could present problems for Jacare. Carmont can defend the takedown very well, and he fights very long.
It's not going to be easy for Jacare to close the distance against him, and it's not going to be easy for Jacare to take him down. If Carmont cannot get knocked out by one shot, he may surprise a lot of people. I'm picking Jacare to win this fight, but in all honesty, Carmont has a bigger shot than the oddsmakers say.
We could also find out that Jacare gets a little tired. If he comes out at the same pace he fought Yushin Okami, and he can't finish him or keep up that pace for three rounds, we could very well see Carmont come alive in the second and third round. If that happens, he could very well pull off the big upset here.
I've fought on the same card as Carmont, and he's as big of a middleweight as I was. He cuts a lot of weight to get down, and when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday night, he'll be around 208-210 pounds. He's a very big guy, and he's a well-trained wrestler. He's also a very long fighter like I mentioned.
The hardest thing to overcome in my career when it came to striking was fighting length. If the guy I was fighting had a reach advantage against me, it nullified a lot of what I liked to do. I ended up getting hit and losing points as I tried to close the distance. It will be really interesting to see how Jacare responds to that. Ultimately, I don't think it is going to matter and Jacare still wins this fight, but if he throws too much too soon into that first round, it could be a much closer fight than people realize.
Let's finish things up on a two-for-one here at the end. Erick Silva and Charles Oliveira are both on this card and have been touted as possible future stars. Yet, both have had some huge setbacks in crucial fights that could have put them over the hump and have stumbled back down the ladder. How much of a must-win situation are these guys facing at UFC Fight Night 36?
I don't think it's just "must win," here. I think it's "must impress." When you get matchups like these in the UFC, you're not expected to just win them. You are expected to win them impressively, finish the guy and look good doing it. That's what gets people hyped up, and that is what gets a fighter back into the big-fight scenario.
Both of these guys have been there. They drew top contenders in previous fights and lost those fights. If they are trying to get back into that area where everyone is talking about them, a three-round decision just isn't going to do it. A close fight isn't going to do it. You have to go out there and dominate. You have to get people excited about seeing you fight.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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