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UFC: Brian Stann discusses the efficacy of fighter management & more (part 1)

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Retired middleweight star and UFC commentator, Brian Stann discusses if fighters can still benefit from MMA management with the impending restrictions of the Reebok deal & more in Part 1 of this two-part feature.

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Esther Lin

Brian Stann is a man with a gift for technical gab. He is a natural talent on the mic, calling the action with the ease of someone who's been at their craft for 20 years. If and when Joe Rogan decides to take a step back from his broadcast role with the UFC, many view Stann as a shoo-in for his replacement, and with good reason. He's articulate, and has a great understanding of the fight game, considering his own background in the sport.

Recently, Stann made an appearance on the Three Amigos Podcast and fielded a variety of questions. Some topics of discussion were whether MMA management is still a necessity to athletes, if he'd be interested in Joe Rogan's position if he ever decided to step away, some of the particulars of his current role and more in Part 1 of this two-part feature. Here's what he had to say:

Three Amigos Podcast: How is the commentary schedule determined?

Brian Stann: You know, it's interesting. We have absolutely no say in it. The producers that work for the UFC will look at the cards and basically split them down the middle between me and Kenny Florian, in terms of the FOX Sports 1 broadcasts. They just divvy them up. I'll get a call saying, ‘Hey, can you do this date, this date and this date?' I answer either yes or no.

There are a whole bunch of guys they rotate through those pre and post fight shows. Those are a little bit more difficult to get. In terms of the Fight Pass cards, anything that's in Europe is going to be John Gooden and Dan Hardy. If it's in Asia, Canada or the US, it's typically going to be split up between me and Kenny. If there's a specific pecking order, I am not aware of it. Basically, there's Rogan and then there's everybody else.

Three Amigos Podcast: Can you guys put in requests or switch assignments if something comes up?

Brian Stann: Certainly. Obviously, that Boston card, when Conor fought in Boston, everybody knew Kenny was gonna want that...his home town and everything else, but it was just gonna do so many ratings that it just turned out that they wanted it to feel more like a pay-per-view, so they brought in Rogan and Goldie.

There's a card in South Korea on Thanksgiving Day, so that's going to be one of those where I go, ‘Hey Kenny, you don't have any kids yet, you're just married. I may tell them to give that one to you and spend Thanksgiving with my children.'

Three Amigos Podcast: Will you be working the Scotland card?

Brian Stann: I am. That's one of the ones I looked at and before anybody even knew who was on the card, I told Zach Candito that I'd happily jump on the Philippines grenade to get the Scotland card. I wanted to go to the Philippines anyway. I wanted to see the area, etcetera.

Sometimes the flights are really tough, so that may not be an event they would jump at, but it turned out that I got it anyway, but they really don't do preferential treatment. The only way that would happen is if we went to him and said, ‘Kenny agrees, I agree, here's what we'd like to do.' Then I think they would listen to it, so I was lucky enough to get Scotland, and I'm really excited for that card.

Three Amigos Podcast: Joe Rogan has mentioned that he is looking ahead to his future, and possibly retiring from his commentary role in a few years. You are looked at by many as the heir apparent. Would that position interest you?

I would jump at the opportunity. I've called live fights, live football, kickboxing and some one-off stuff like awards shows and some different stuff television-wise, but the events that I love the most are live fights. -UFC commentator Brian Stann discusses the possibility of a future, larger commentary role

Brian Stann: Thank you so much for the compliment. I appreciate that. I would jump at the opportunity. I've called live fights, live football, kickboxing and some one-off stuff like awards shows and some different stuff television-wise, but the events that I love the most are live fights.

In the fighting world-because I did fight professionally - the access I get to the fighters and the relationships I get to build with them, gives me the opportunity to pass on to them some of the lessons learned. I enjoy telling them what I feel I did wrong in my career, and how they can enhance their own careers, specifically in terms of longevity, by training smarter and safer. Choosing a manager, or learning about match-making. There's a lot of pitfalls for young people in combat sports, in general. It's always been that way. You look at boxing and other combat sports, it's always been very different from other organized sports.

So anyway, I really enjoy the event itself, and I lose myself in it. I can watch tape of a fighter, take a guy like Carlos Condit, a few weeks ago, I was watching tape from his WEC days. I was watching his fight against Martin Kampmann, his newer fights... just to see the small details he's added to his game, the small changes, what new combinations he's using, how he's holding his hands differently. All the little things, I enjoy doing that, and that bores other people to tears.

That's why I would jump at that opportunity, and I think if I were to take that, I probably wouldn't do another job like I do now. I have a full-time job, which I had the whole time I fought, but I'd just call sports full time, which frees me up to do a lot more with my family. I could take my kids to school every day. Rogan doesn't really have to travel that much. If you want to know who gets the short end of the stick, it's Jon Anik. That dude is always in the air.

Three Amigos Podcast: Recently, the question of the actual necessity for MMA management has been contemplated by some of the bigger named fighters. T.J. Dillashaw and Joseph Benavidez both dumped their management, but their teammate, Chad Mendes decided to stick by his own management, who subsequently netted him a very lucrative new contract. With the new Reebok deal right around the corner, what do you think, are managers a necessary expense or do you think fighters can make it on their own?

Brian Stann: If I was still fighting, it would have been very bad for me to go without management. However, that being said, I retired right as the sponsorship market really started to collapse, so I got lucky and made great money off of sponsors, and not just for when I fought, but in monthly installments. I had an appearance-heavy schedule. When I would fight, the very next month after, I was doing a lot of public speaking appearances, commercial shoots and event appearances for my sponsors. That's how my manager, Robert Roveta, got really creative.

A lot of the companies that were sponsoring me made money in the service member market or something else that was directly relevant to my career interests; VA mortgages, supplement industry - I was going to a lot of events for bodybuilding and fitness. It would have hurt me tremendously to not have had my management. However, some of my deals were coming to an end, and it didn't sound like they were going to renew them when I got out, because that was when the market really started to dry up, and I've heard it's gotten worse.

I have to admit, 60% of the fighters that I have spoken to, told me the Reebok deal was better for them. I was really surprised to hear that. I thought lots of guys were going to be upset. I talked to Ryan LaFlare on our podcast last week, and he said for his fight with Demian Maia, he was main event, and his total sponsorships were $12,000. He's only been paid 3 grand of that so far. He said that is the third fight in a row where he's only gotten about that level of money from sponsors, and only received about that same percentage of the money. ‘I was supposed to have made $10 grand in my last fight, but have only received $2 grand of it.' These guys are getting stiffed an awful lot, which is a shame.

Being able to have your own sponsors was a privilege, it wasn't a right. The UFC gave that to you. I think Chael Sonnen put that the best. However, to have that privilege for so long, and then all the sudden, you go from 60 to 0 in a split second, you kind of have to expect a massive outcry. You've got to brace for impact. That part was kind of difficult to swallow.

I'll be honest, I made $15K a month in endorsements alone. I wish I made that now. That's great money, but none of those companies paid out that money because their logo was on my butt.

I have heard from guys like Joseph Benavidez that this is better for them. Now is the true test for managers. I'll be honest, I made $15K a month in endorsements alone. I wish I made that now. That's great money, but none of those companies paid out that money because their logo was on my butt. Nobody cared. Nobody saw that. What they gave me that money for was social media posts, appearances over the course of the year, doing commercials, doing radio tour interviews, doing YouTube videos, being a brand ambassador for their company.

I think these managers can start to make up the difference with some of the more unique athletes they may have, but there are always going to be fighters that are just vanilla, and are never going to do well for sponsors.

Part 2 of this interview will be up soon so be on the lookout for it. You can follow Brian via his Twitter account, @BrianStann. You can listen to the interview HERE. The audio for his segment starts at the 21 minute mark.