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Brian Stann talks future in politics, favorite UFC memories, gives message to MMA fans

Over the course of his run in the UFC broadcast booth, Brian Stann served as the color commentary voice for countless UFC events, calling the action for fights both big and small on every forum from UFC Fight Pass to big FOX all the way to pay-per-view. And while that chapter of Stann’s life is now over — the 36-year-old resigned from his UFC role last month to accept a COO position with a “large real estate firm” — Stann still has plenty of fond memories from his time on the mic, and he shared a few of his favorites Monday on The MMA Hour.

“There are a couple,” Stann told host Ariel Helwani. “Chad Mendes-Jose Aldo 2 in Rio was unbelievable. It was absolutely amazing. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha 2 was unbelievable, and that was the night — in consecutive nights, calling Rafael dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez and then Joanna vs. Claudia 2 was just unreal.

“It was such an incredible opportunity to be around and do two amazing cards like that, two main events. It was amazing. Amazing. So those are really the three fights that stick out in my head the most, but I’ve been a part of a lot of them, and if I really sat down and looked, I’m sure I’d be able to add more to that list.”

A former Marine awarded the Silver Star Medal, the nation’s third-highest award for valor in combat, Stann competed in mixed martial arts for eight years before retiring from the sport in 2013. After finding a home for many years afterward in the UFC broadcast booth, Stann now moves on to the private sector. The ex-WEC champion cited a desire to spend more time with his family as the primary reason for his decision, but he also admitted that more went into it than that, with Stann noting that as much as he loved calling fights, “when I look back at what I’ve done with the best years of my professional life, I didn’t want to just say, ‘Man, I called some really great fights.’ I wanted to do something a little bit more than that.”

That sort of talk is emblematic of a narrative that has chased Stann throughout his career, as many within the MMA space have often teased that they would vote for Stann for President of the United States if he ever ran. Fellow broadcaster Jon Anik jokingly nicknamed Stann “The Greatest Living American,” and figures within the sport from Chael Sonnen to Joe Rogan have talked about Stann’s potential political future.

With the MMA portion of career coming to a close, Stann admitted that politics could indeed be in his path one day, although he does not expect that day to come soon.

“Here’s the thing. I am 36, soon to be 37, and I think that to run for public office, you need to have something to offer these people,” Stann said. “It is about servant leadership, which certainly is not the mindset in Washington now. But I think this phase of my life needs to be complete, my kids need to be older, and when I have three teenage daughters, they’re going to want me around a little less, so that might be better timing. But I need to understand — I’ve got some good, varied experience in my life, and I need to add to that before I really have something to offer the American people and have a well-rounded perspective to lead again. And that time may come. There’s an itch there that I have not scratched, but the timing’s got to be right, and I think I need to be older, I need to be wiser, I need to have more to offer.”

Before signing off, Stann also delivered a message, unprompted, to fans of mixed martial arts. As someone who has commentated other sports outside of MMA — Stann called his commentating gig for college football “so much easier” and “a joke in comparison to the difficulty of calling fights” — Stann asked for more compassion from the MMA community with the way it treats its broadcasters, particularly on social media, where hurtful comments can be a dime a dozen.

“Every analyst has their own strong points, and there’s certain fights that they’re going to call better than the other guy, just because of their timing and whatnot. But for some reason, even more so than the NFL and the NBA, our fans can be so wretched to people in this industry who are calling fights, play-by-play and analysts,” Stann said. “And it’s really frustrating to sit there and see a guy like a Todd Grisham, or a fellow analyst who I’ve done so many studio shows with, just get destroyed by the fans after they’ve really gave it their best effort.

“When you have to talk for seven-and-a-half hours on live television, it’s not easy. You’re going to say some stupid things. You’re going to flub. You’re going to forget names, you’re going to say names wrong. Trust me when I tell all the fans here — and look, I can take it, right? — everybody that they have in this industry is trying really hard. They’re putting in the work and they want to be good. There’s nobody that’s just saying, ‘You know what? I’m just going to show up and do this.’ They’re all putting in effort. Please remember that when you decide to communicate with them in a mature manner, because we do take feedback very well from fans and we will look into things if it’s maturely communicated to us.

“But some of the people — to watch some of my friends just look at what fans are saying on social media and see their hearts get broken, that’s tough to look at, man. And I think our sport, as much as the fans say, ‘Hey, look, it needs to get to this next level of mainstream,’ not only is that on the athletes and the executives at the UFC, it’s also on our fans a little bit too. Let’s try to be a little bit classier as a sport.”

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