The recently retired UFC middleweight Brian Stann is no stranger to war and battling for his life and for his dreams. A former Captain in the US Marine Corps, Stann served two tours and over 1,000 days deployed in Iraq prior to beginning his UFC career.
One of the golden rules of modern warfare is to never take the same route twice. During a mission to sweep an area in Anbar Province, Iraq, one of the tanks in his outfit was destroyed by and explosion. Three Marines were wounded and airlifted back to base. The rest Stann’s platoon escaped only to be ordered back to retrieve the disabled tank. Stann had no choice but to order his men to take the same route back and the inevitable happened as the enemy lay in wait.
For six days Weapons Company, 2nd Platoon took heavy fire and held their ground until support was able to pull them out. Captain Stann’s leadership directing both tanks and air support along with leading his men during this fight earned him a Silver Star; but the memories haunt him and his men.
Mixed Martial Arts is a highly physical combat sport but pales in comparison to warfare. Still, there are parallels in the approach to facing off against an opponent with intent to inflict bodily harm in the cage. Stann recounts his darkest thoughts in the midst of it all:
“I keep reliving that day. A dream that never ends. Every smell, every sound, every movement, forever, just burned in my memory. I was surrounded. My fingers were trembling. I tried to control my breath. This is where my training is supposed to kick in. This is when I’m supposed to burry my fear. This is where my hate becomes my friend. I grip my blade with determination. With an unapologetic thrust, I inflict a vicious blow upon my enemy….” (click the video below for the rest of his poignant story)
Britt Hoffmann, Tap Houston