Cody Stamann will take a heavy heart into one of the biggest fights of his career Saturday night at UFC 250. But despite circumstances that would have sidetracked many others in his situation, the talented competitor never gave serious consideration to dropping out.
Last week, Stamann’s 18-year-old brother, Jacob, died suddenly. His family is still waiting to find out the official cause of death.
Despite the grief he’s processing over the loss of his brother, Stamann said it’s important to follow through with his bout against Brian Kelleher.
“People were like, ‘Hey, if you want to postpone this, wait a little longer, that’s 100 percent understandable,’” Stamann told MMA Junkie this week. “I just thought what most people think, I think, in those situations. What would the person that passed, what would they want me to do? And I can say without a shadow of a doubt he would want me to compete. He loved watching me compete, and I know that’s what he would want.”
Stamann, 30, lives and trains in Las Vegas but is originally from Michigan and competed in wrestling at Grand Valley State. Stamann said plans were in place for his younger brother to come out and visit a couple months ago, but because of the coronavirus pandemic those plans were postponed, with the idea of rescheduling the visit after Stamann’s next fight.
“It was super unexpected, super unexpected,” Stamann said of his brother’s death. “We had just made plans to have him come out. We actually canceled plans because of COVID-19. My mom didn’t want him flying while everything was happening. So we kind of postponed our plans and then I got a fight and then it was, ‘Hey, you’ll come out here right after I fight.’”
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of his brother, Stamann believes 2020 has taught him a lesson that tomorrow is not guaranteed. And as such, he believes the best reaction to turbulent times is to go out and live your life as strong as possible.
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“If the last two months have taught us anything, society, you never know what’s going to happen, nothing is promised, you never know what the hell is going to happen,” Stamann said. “Yeah, I mean, it’s devastating, but I still have a job to do, still have to keep my head in a good place and do anything I can to honor him by being the best man I can be now. Death is permanent; it’s over. So now it’s on me to live my life better for him.”
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Stamann told MMA Junkie that his family plans on starting a foundation in his brother’s name, which will benefit youth wrestling programs and troubled youth in West Michigan. In the meantime, while there’s no denying the sadness of his tragedy, Stamann, who is coming off a draw with Song Yadong, vows to channel his energy into a spirited fight against Kelleher in a bout that will happen at featherweight, although Stamann usually fights as a bantamweight.
“My heart is absolutely broken,” Stamann said. “I don’t even know. There’s no words; there’s nothing I can say that makes it any better. But my mind is sharp. That kid loved watching me fight. He’s gotta be one of my biggest fans. I’m focused on the fight. This isn’t taking away the focus or anything. It’s fuel for the fire. So I’m looking forward to being the best version of myself Saturday night.”
UFC 250 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.
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