Cody Stamann felt he had already done enough to warrant a UFC debut before his late call-up to face fellow midwest prospect Terrion Ware on seven days’ notice at UFC 213.
Despite only being cleared to compete 14 days before the fight took place after suffering a knee injury, the 27-year-old showcased a dynamic skill set as he bested Ware over three rounds.
After patiently waiting for a UFC contract, Stamann has been rewarded with a date against outstanding European bantamweight Tom Duquesnoy, who he meets at UFC 216.
“I’m definitely his hardest fight by a long shot,” Stamann told MMAFighting.com.
“I feel like he’s fought some guys that are okay grapplers and some guys that are okay strikers. He’s never fought a well-rounded fighter.
“In his debut, I think he was an 11-1 favorite — that’s pretty unheard of. I think he was being spoon fed in his debut and now he’s barking up my tree and I’m ready to go out and prove that I’m the man.”
Stamann looked at ease against Ware, talking to matchmaker Sean Shelby between rounds to further make an impression on the UFC brass. He immediately requested a top-10 or top-20 challenge for his next bout, but feels Duquesnoy is just as appealing as an opponent based on the hype he has garnered in Europe.
However, had the Frenchman come up in the US, Stamann doubts that he would be courting such fanfare.
“I’m not going to take anything away from the guy, he is tough. He’s tough, he comes forward and he always shows up to fight. By all means, I don’t think this guy is a chump,” Stamann explained.
“I do think that if he fought in the US, or in the midwest or in California, or somewhere that there is a lot of really tough wrestlers, strikers, and boxers, I don’t think that he would have the same kind of hype.
“He fought in Europe and he has got a lot of attention because he is the best guy coming out of France. He was leagues ahead of all of the guys he fought on BAMMA.
“I think that a lot of the bantamweights in the US are leagues ahead of those guys too. He is an elite competitor, but by beating him I will prove that I belong amongst the best in the world.”
Unimpressed by Duquesnoy’s debut, Stamann jumped at the offer to fight the Jackson-Wink prospect, but he wasn’t the UFC’s first choice.
“I got a phone call from my manager and he basically said that UFC is looking at a few guys for Tom Duquesnoy and asked if I was interested in fighting him,” Stamann remembered.
“I already knew who he was. I saw his debut and it wasn’t really that impressive and he wasn’t fighting a guy that was impressive either. I said, ‘Absolutely, let’s go,’ but I didn’t get the fight. They said no.
“The UFC was going to give him somebody else, I’m not too sure who it was, and then I got a phone call two days later saying, ‘Actually, that guy doesn’t want to fight.’
“I think I was the second or third choice for the UFC. So, either one guy or two guys pulled out and I ended up being the guy. I think because I said I wanted the fight and committed to it, that’s the reason that I got the fight.”
The main criticism that was pulled from Duquesnoy’s debut was how hittable he seemed to be. As a state boxing champion, Stamann took note as he watched on, but was quick to point to Duquesnoy’s aggression as something to be wary of.
“He is hittable, and I’m sure he’s working on that. I’m expecting a better version of him than what we saw in his debut because he has had a little time to work since then.
“I’m a state champion boxer in Michigan. I’m a pretty well-rounded striker. Anything he can do on his feet, I can do.
“For me, it’s more about being able to keep up with the pace. His best attribute is his aggression. He comes forward and pressures guys — he wears them out. I’ve seen him absorb punishment for two rounds, but he just kept coming forward and forcing the exchanges and eventually he finished his opponent.
“This is the UFC, though. Until now he was probably fighting guys that had jobs and a bunch of other stuff going on. All I do is train. He’s not going to get a guy that gets tired when he faces me.”
After making his promotional bow as a featherweight, Stamann will now move down to bantamweight to challenge Duquesnoy — a category where he feels nobody can physically match him.
“At featherweight, I feel like I’m pretty strong. I never really wanted to go to bantamweight, but there are more opportunities there,” Stamann said.
“When I actually make 135 I feel like I’m a man grabbing hold of kid when I’m in the cage. I’ve never met a guy at 135 pounds that I felt was stronger than me. I’ve trained with elite guys that are in the UFC, and when I got hold of them, I felt I had an excessive strength advantage.
“I’m hugely explosive for that category too, so I feel like I have a huge advantage over anyone that I compete with at bantamweight.”