Of all the fights the UFC could put together, Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann has to be the one with the starkest contrast between a fighter people love and a fighter people hate. At least Stann has that going for him.
Striking: The striking game is a battle of volume against power. Bisping is rarely out-struck by an opponent, and has very good straight punches, with a good sense of distancing. He also is very good at pressuring his opponent, and landing strikes without being hit himself. Even against a good striker like Stann, I would give Bisping the advantage in terms of total strikes landed. On the flip side, Stann definitely has much better knockout power than Bisping. While Bisping is the kind of fighter who wears out an opponent, Stann is the kind of fighter who can put an opponent to sleep. It is worth noting that Stann has received some favorable matchmaking: his fights against Jorge Santiago and Alessio Sakara featured Stann against fighters with bad chins. But not everybody knocks out those guys, and Stann has nine wins by TKO in 16 fights, an excellent ratio.
Wrestling: Bisping is an underrated wrestler, and I’ll admit to underrating his skill here when he fought Chael Sonnen. Sonnen ultimately won the wrestling battle, as he almost always does, but Bisping proved very hard to hold down, and even landed a takedown of his own. Usually, Bisping likes to strike with an opponent early, and then take him down a little later in the fight, where he’ll begin a ground and pound assault. By contrast, Brian Stann is not a wrestler, and usually struggles when he has to fight them. Granted, Sonnen and Phil Davis are outstanding fighters, but they both were able to take Stann to the ground, where he simply did not have an answer for their top control game. If Bisping goes for takedowns, and I believe he will, I think he’ll land them on Stann.
Submissions: Neither man is a submission-based fighter, but if either wins by that method, it will be Bisping. Stann managed to defeat Mike Massenzio by submission due to triangle choke, but while that shows Stann has something in the ground game, Massenzio is not in Michael Bisping’s league. If this fight is on the ground, it will be with Bisping in top position, and if Bisping is in top position, he’s most likely going to be landing strikes, not going for submissions. Still, there’s a possibility that if Stann makes a big mistake on the ground, Bisping will go for the tap out.
Prediction: Michael Bisping by decision. I will feel much more confident in that prediction if Bisping goes for takedowns. If it’s a striking match instead, I still favor Bisping, but give Stann more than a decent chance of winning by knockout. But if Bisping fights smart and uses his wrestling and ground and pound, I don’t think Stann will be able to handle it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Stann has been miscast as an elite middleweight fighter. In reality, he’s more of a B-minus/C-plus middleweight by UFC standards. That puts him a level below Bisping.