By Brian Stann: Although I spent many years overseas during my time in the Marines, I consider myself to now be something of a stay-at-home fighter. I've fought the majority of my mixed martial arts career at home in the United States and have, in fact, only competed outside America once and that was a 2009 fight with Krzysztof Soszynski in Quebec, Canada – hardly the other side of the world.
This all changes on Saturday night, however, when I showcase my skills in front of 15,000 Swedish fight fans in Stockholm. I'm actually writing this fight week blog from my Stockholm hotel and couldn't be happier to expand my horizons and take my show on the road. I've never been to this part of the world before and am currently feeding off the anticipation that precedes the event. All of the Swedish fans I've met seem to be super-pumped for the event and that only makes me hungrier to put on a real show.
It's an honor to have been picked by the UFC to represent them as they seek to break into another territory and I can assure both them and the fans that I won't be letting anybody down come Saturday night. Alessio Sakara and I are going to stand and fight until one of us is declared a winner and nobody will be left disappointed with what they see.
It's always been a goal of mine to one day compete overseas and, to be honest, I'm surprised it has taken this long. While it's constantly a thrill fighting in my home country, there's something special about getting on the plane and travelling into the unknown. That sense of losing your comfort zone actually quite appeals to me. Of course, given that I'm fighting Sakara, an Italian, in Sweden, I may not come in for much of a fierce welcoming, but it will be interesting to see how the fans respond to my entrance. Sakara is, after all, a European fighter and the two of us will be competing in Europe.
Still, what I've come to realize about UFC fans over the years is that there seems to be an appreciation for all fighters and few tight allegiances are formed based on nationality. UFC fans tend to like fighters who fight with their heart on their sleeve and very rarely does nationality impact on their opinion. Given our respective fighting history, I'm sure the Swedes will be right behind both Sakara and I when all is said and done.
One of the main issues some fighters have when travelling and fighting overseas is the jet lag that often follows. I'm not one of those guys that complains about jet-lag though. I really feel it only becomes a problem when you let it become a problem. From my point of view, I'm just focusing on training at the time I'm going to fight and then molding my day around that practice session, regardless of what everybody else might be doing. I won't be letting the jet lag bother me this week, I can assure you.
In truth, I can't afford to let jet lag or any pre-fight anxieties bother me. This is the biggest fight of my life and, for various reasons, this clash with Sakara means more than any of my previous Octagon outings. After the death of my brother-in-law Louie just before Christmas, I made it my mission to win this fight against Sakara and use victory as my way of memorializing him. I have dedicated this fight and my victory to him and, in light of everything my family has been through since Christmas, a win over Sakara would be the sweetest to date. My wife will be with me in the arena and her brother will be watching over us.
This one's for you, Louie...
How do you think I should go about winning the fight? Tweet me your thoughts @BrianStann .
Middleweight contender Brian Stann battles Italian striker Alessio Sakara in Stockholm, Sweden on April 14 live on FUEL TV.