After a considerable feeling-out process, it was the “All-American” who drew first blood, dropping Santiago with a left hook and inciting cheers from the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“The first round went exactly as planned, but then I think I got a little overexcited,” said Stann (Pictured; file photo). “So, I had to calm myself down a bit. But, the bottom line is that a guy like Jorge Santiago has been there a thousand times before, and he gets better as the fight goes on.”
Stann pounded away from top position to end the first frame but was ultimately unable to secure the stoppage. In round two, the American would come out with renewed composure.
“I slowed myself down in the second. I came out expecting him to shoot for a takedown, so I was a little more tentative. I didn’t want to overextend myself and get taken down,” Stann said. “Then we really starting mixing it up. I think he felt he was behind on the scorecards, and I just ended up catching him.”
The right hand that floored Santiago was a stiff one to say the least, clipping the Brazilian behind his left ear and sending him reeling to the mat. From there it was academic, as Stann rained down right hands from above his fallen foe. According to Stann, however, he was fortunate to get the victory considering the quality of his competition.
“With a guy like Jorge, it could have been either one of us who got caught tonight,” said Stann. “I’m just grateful that it wasn’t me and that tonight was my night. But, he’s a great champion. He deserves all the belts he’s won and I’m sure he’s going to make a run at [the UFC] title.”
Also of note were the hard and accurate leg kicks thrown by Stann, who is not known for utilizing that particular technique. Though the fighter says he is no stranger to kicking the legs of his opponents, he credits striking coach Mike Winkeljohn for incorporating the kicks into his game plan.
“I won most of my amateur fights by leg kicks, but due to the fact that I fought so many wrestlers in a row, I really couldn’t throw them [recently],” said Stann. “It’s something that coach Winkeljohn has been developing in me. Jorge is really heavy on that lead leg, so [throwing leg kicks] was a big part of my game plan this time.”
Stann’s next opponent is predictably up in the air at this point -- not because of a lack of suitable competition, but because most middleweight contenders are either out of action or slated to compete in the near future.
“I don’t know who [I’ll fight next]. Everybody is pretty matched up right now. You’ve got [Michael] Bisping fighting [Jason Miller], even,” said Stann. “I just need to get home and spend some time with my kids and family before I [return] to training and continue my development in striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.”
In regards to the man whom Stann had initially planned to face on Saturday night, the former U.S. Marine said he still has interest in a bout with Wanderlei Silva. Should that bout fails to materialize, the ever-prepared American has thought of a less violent contingency plan.
“I’d always love to fight Wanderlei. He’s one of my favorite fighters ever. It would be a dream come true. But, if I never have to fight him, then maybe I can just get a picture with him and an autograph. That would be pretty cool.”