Marshall, Stann Ready to Fill Main Event Void

By Mike Sloan Mar 26, 2008
LAS VEGAS -- World Extreme Cagefighting billed Paulo Filho (Pictures)'s second bout with Chael Sonnen (Pictures) as the rematch for the ages. The battle was designed to satiate hardcore mixed martial arts fans' desires for finality, to find a true victor.

Many who viewed their first fight felt Sonnen was robbed when he locked horns with the Brazilian WEC middleweight champion, disagreeing with the notion that the American wrestler tapped out to an armbar.

At first it looked as if the wrestler verbally submitted while his arm was in danger. His hand gestures suggested that he was tapping. However, when Filho released the lock, Sonnen vehemently protested what he said was a phantom tapout.

Without the benefit of conclusive replays, it seemed the only way to determine the true belt holder would come in a second clash.

Arranged to headline Wednesday's card inside The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Sonnen-Filho II was set to answer lingering questions. However, when Filho had to withdraw from the Versus televised card due to a battle with chemical dependency and depression, Sonnen was relegated to fighting late replacement Bryan Baker (Pictures).

Quickly, WEC executives moved the card's other title bout -- a light heavyweight showdown between champion Doug Marshall (Pictures) and Brian Stann (Pictures) -- into the spotlight.

Marshall (7-2) is the brash, trash-talking titleholder with heavy hands hidden inside fingerless gloves. Though he is known for pulling a surprise submission, the tattooed David Draiman look-a-like prefers to keep the fight standing, where he can end a contest with one punch.

A hard-nosed brawler who likes to back up pre-fight diatribes, the established champion of the WEC and current bad boy of the Zuffa-owned company said motivation is never an issue.

"I'm motivated whether it's my first fight, my last fight, a title fight, a fight in a bar -- whatever it is," he said. "I'm stepping out there to win. I step out there and I put grown men down. And I plan on putting him down tonight."

Meanwhile Stann (5-0) is the true representation of an all-American fighter -- a Silver Star recipient who served two tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Marines.

Not one to rant or engage in verbal battles, Stann said after Tuesday's weigh-in that winning the title won't determine his success.

"None of that really matters," he said. "It doesn't matter because I'm really focused on my career outside the cage anyway. It's not about the title; it's about giving it my all inside there."

To give his all, Stann prepared with members of Team Quest.

"It's a five-round fight, and it's a great opponent so I trained my ass off for it," he said. "I trained a lot with Team Quest and had some of the Team Quest guys flown in to South Carolina to help me train there."

Stann prefers to slug away and take his opponents out while on his feet, but he is fully aware of the champion's power and explosiveness.

"It's going to take toughness. It's going to take good conditioning. It's going to take a hard head and some hard fists" to prevail, said the 27-year-old Marine who has been featured in numerous mainstream news stories because of his heroism on the battlefield and his love for MMA.

"Doug's a tough guy and he hits real hard," Stann added. "It's going to take more than just some punches to land to get him out of there. It'll be a true test."

When it comes to defending his title, Marshall plans on denying Stann, though he heeds the dangers that await him.

"Being a mixed martial artist you gotta be ready for anything at any time," said the 31-year-old Californian. "I'm ready for anything. I plan on keeping this fight standing, so you can quote me on that. It is what it is. There's going to be some bombs thrown and some bombs eaten and we'll see who eats the most.

"How's this fight going to go down? It's going down [with] Doug ‘The Rhino' retaining his title. That's how it's going down."

Considering both combatants' firepower, it could have been a blessing in disguise that Filho had to withdraw from the card -- Marshall and Stann might have stolen the show anyhow.
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