UFC Middleweight bout: Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann
Betting Pick: Leben
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In the semi-main event, the resurgent Chris “The Crippler” Leben will look to keep his recent momentum alive against tough WEC veteran Brian Stann. Leben has great striking and an underrated ground game, not to mention a willingness to wade through damage to land shots of his own, but Stann’s mix of wrestling and punching power will be a stern test for him.
Brian Stann, who made his way to the UFC when the WEC closed their higher weight divisions, started his career with a string of brutal knockout victories, but since coming to UFC has yet to finish a fight. Still, his punching power didn’t just vanish, and he has the power to put anyone down if he lands a clean power punch. He also has decent wrestling to go along with it and solid ground and pound.
Chris Leben is one of the more exciting fighters in the world. A tough brawler with heavy hands, he is more than willing to take a few shots to land a big haymaker and he has a very underrated ground game, as he proved by triangle choking Yoshihiro Akiyama in his last fight. That said, he still clearly prefers the standup, and Stann is probably willing to engage with him on the feet, so this will probably wind up a boxing match.
I think Leben has to be the favorite here. Either guy could conceivably knock the other out, but Leben is more battle-tested, has fought better competition, and has a better chin. The kind of guys who give Leben problems are people with superior technique who can beat him to the punch, and that isn’t Stann. This should be a wild brawl, but eventually Leben will pull out the T/KO win.
Prediction: Chris “The Crippler” Leben via third round T/KO.