American heroes were once heralded for their courage and humility. Now, foul-mouthed celebrities are celebrated and made more famous by every mug shot and inflammatory comment.
Brian Stann is a true American Hero. He is a warrior and an ambassador of martial arts. Stann is the man we want our sons to become. Chael Sonnen is a hero that has fallen from grace. As an aspiring politician, disgraced realtor and felon recently back from a PED suspension, he is a representation of America’s troubled state. And in true WWE fashion good and evil will meet at UFC 136, except this time both men will be draped in the American flag.
Both Stann and Sonnen know full well the responsibility and dedication required to wear the stars and stripes. Stann served in two tours of Iraq and earned a Silver Star for “zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional presence of mind." Sonnen, an All-American at the University of Oregon, earned a spot as an alternate on the United States Greco-Roman Wrestling team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Since entering the spotlight, the two men have followed very different paths towards Houston’s Toyota Center. Dana White describes Stann perfectly. “He is on his way to becoming a superstar," White said. "Not only are his skills getting better, everything that comes out of this kid's mouth is a homerun.”
Sonnen, on the other hand, has taken a Dana-like, pro-wrestling inspired approach to the microphone (Sonnen 3:16 says I just mocked your ass). Whether it’s Lance Armstrong or the entire country of Brazil, nobody is safe from his taunts. Both in person and through the twitter account that he has both promoted and denied the existence of, Sonnen is a lightning rod for controversy.
Through ESPN.co.uk, Sonnen recently said, "Wanderlei tells me that he's going to send me to the dentist… I will cut the power to your house and do a home invasion. You will hear me climbing up the stairs in a pair of night vision goggles I bought in the back of 'Solder of Fortune' magazine. The next thing you'll hear is me picking the lock of your bedroom door and taking a photograph of you in bed with the Nogueira brothers working on your jiu-jitsu.”
What Sonnen failed to mention is that Wanderlei was telling Chael to be more respectful of Brazil and that MMA legend Silva spoke to Chael face-to-face, not behind his back or through the media.
In stark contrast, after his UFC 130 TKO of Jorge Santiago, Stann said, “I’d always love to fight Wanderlei. He’s one of my favorite fighters ever. It would be a dream come true. But, if I never have to fight him, then maybe I can just get a picture with him and an autograph. That would be pretty cool.”
If this were the WWE, the fans in Houston would explode when Stann locked up a submission victory and marched from turnbuckle to turnbuckle waving the flag and leading the fans in the familiar chant of “USA! USA! USA!” But MMA is not fake, and Sonnen is the toughest opponent of Stann’s life. The toughest opponent not firing a gun in his direction.