LAS VEGAS – Most fighters build up to their fights during fight week, but rising bantamweight contender Cody Stamann faced a fight with his emotions all week, and those emotions finally spilled over after his UFC 250 win over Brian Kelleher.
Stamann’s victory at UFC 250 came against a backdrop of grief after his 18-year-old brother Jacob unexpectedly died in his sleep the week before UFC 250. It meant the 30-year-old was forced to battle his internal grief while making sure he was fully prepared for his fight.
The Las Vegas-based Stamann held everything together admirably throughout fight week as he revealed the tragedy he and his family were trying to deal with. But by the time he and Kelleher had hugged at the end of their preliminary card bout at the UFC Apex, Stamann’s emotions came flooding out.
“I’m a man. I pulled myself up, I kept my (expletive) together and I did what I had to do when the time came,” he told reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage after his unanimous decision win. “I was bursting at the seams once the fight was over and emotions poured out of me. I just couldn’t hold it anymore.”
Stamann (19-2-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) admitted he didn’t have a particularly good opinion of Kelleher before their fight, but revealed their emotional exchange after the final buzzer completely changed how he felt about his rival.
“Honestly, going into this fight I didn’t have much respect for Brian Kelleher,” he said. “We’d said some things online back and forth personally that made me kind of think he was a certain kind of person. After the fight, he was very gracious and he just basically said, ‘I’m very sorry for your loss. You’re the toughest guy I’ve ever fought, and what you just went through is (expletive) amazing,’ and I started crying and I just gave him a big hug.
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“It’s one of the weird things about fighting. After you’ve tried to kill some guy for 15 minutes in the cage, you guys have like a weird bond afterward. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it does happen.”
Stamann’s fight with Kelleher at UFC 250 was at 145 pounds, but he said his fighting future is likely to be at bantamweight. However, despite the packed field of contenders at 135 pounds, Stamann said the time isn’t right for him to start calling out any specific names as he placed his focus firmly on his family.
“I’ve got to go home,” he said. “I’ve got to figure out my (expletive) in my personal life before I can make any decisions about what’s going to happen in my fighting career. Obviously, there’s a ton of huge fights at bantamweight, there’s a ton of huge fights at featherweight, and I’m going to be a part of a lot of those big fights moving forward.
“I think tonight I proved I’m one of the best guys in the world, and moving forward that’s going to be a more common theme. There’s maybe a little bit of respect on my name after tonight, but it’ll change. I definitely think that everyone in the MMA game will know who I am really soon.”
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