UFC middleweight fighter and former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann, 32, has announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, citing concerns of health risks after years of war fighting and decades of contact sports. Stann predicts a paradigm shift in MMA training, away from head contact.
Stann, who has two daughters with a third on the way, will now devote his attention to his family, and sees a career in broadcasting as the best means to do so. Although best known as a mixed martial artists, Stann was a linebacker for the Naval Academy. He has been an analyst for both FOX and FUEL TV's UFC event coverage, and recently was hired as a football analyst for FOX Sports South coverage of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Stann was a captain in the Marine Corps, and earned a Silver Star for gallantry in action in Iraq. He currently founded and runs Hire Heroes, a non-profit group offering job search and placement assistance to US military veterans. The group has a special focus on the two demographics statistically most likely to be unemployed: young veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as wounded or disabled veterans.
"I wanted to use this opportunity to say thank you," said Stann to the fans and to the entire sport, on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour. "The relationships and experiences I've gotten from fans and fellow fighters have honestly made me a much better person. I leave fighting having taken more from fighting I have ever gave."
"I can't be the best husband and father that I can be by living and training in another city for to months at while I prepare for a fight," said Stann simply.
"And the other part of it after playing football for so many years, and being involved in several explosions in Iraq, and now fighting professionally for eight years, I definitely am rolling the dice with my long term health. I have not had any issue with head injuries, I don't have a number of documented concussions, but these are issues that you don't know there is something wrong until there is something wrong.
"I'm bringing my third child into the world this Fall, my third daughter - it is not a good idea for me to roll those dice.
"I've had the opportunities to get to the highest levels in the sport, I've fought some of the best fighters in the sport, and unfortunately I've lost a bunch of those fights, and that has stopped me from getting to a level that I would like to get to in this sport. And I do think I could continue, but if I was to continue, try to revamp myself as a fighter, I think I could would run the risk of possible long-term health problems. And that would be very irresponsible of me as a husband and father. And again, those are always going to be the most important jobs I have.
"I'm very, very lucky to have other options. I've always maintained a full time job, the entire time I was a fighter, just because things like this could happen, and you never how things will go in fighting."
"I had never been knocked unconscious before, until the Wanderlei Silva fight. You do start to notice things more and more. As I talk to other fighters, early in your career you can take punches in fights and punches in training that don't even phase you. As you do it over time over time over time, years and years and years, one, you are sparring with better people, but two, you start to realize you are getting some headaches here and there. You start to realize this isn't exactly the best thing for our health.
"I think there is going to be a paradigm shift in the way mixed martial arts fighters train. For example, in my last training camp, I only sparred once a week, rather than the traditional twice a week.
"But doing that for years and years… if you look at my life, I have been getting hit in the head since I was in 2nd grade playing football. And I am now 32 years old, that's a long time. And there's only so long I can roll those dice and be successful. For me the risk is not worth it."
"When you start having children, life gets a lot more expensive. As fathers, we do the things we have to do, not always the things we want to do."
"When I talked to Dana White it was a week and a half ago, and the first thing he said was that you've absolutely got a lot of options, we love having you on FOX, and we'll support you in whatever you decide to do, and he asked me 'How have the FOX people been to you?' We love having you continue to do that.
"When you're talking long term health, Dana doesn't mince words with that, and he speaks about that pretty often, so he was very supportive."
"I'm still going to be involved as much as the UFC will allow me to be in the UFC, and continuing to be an ambassador for the sport. But as far as competing anymore, as sad as it makes me, it's not the best thing for me as a husband and a father – which by far is the most important thing to me. I sacrificed more than I gained, and it's time for me to focus on my family."
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