If there’s a more positive person than Cody Stamann getting ready for a barrage of COVID-19 tests, an approximately 20-hour flight to Yas Island, 100+ degree temperatures and a fistfight with Jimmie Rivera on Wednesday, I haven’t found him.
“The only thing that's gonna be difficult is the time change,” said Stamann on July 9, on quarantine at home in Las Vegas before his trip to Fight Island. “As far as the flight, I've done tons of long flights like this and the quarantine doesn't really sound that bad to me, either. Forty-eight hours in your hotel room, before a fight, what do you really do? Go walk around in the lobby? You don't do much anyway, so I don't think it's going to be that terribly different. And the people that I'm with, I enjoy being around, so I think we'll have fun in our little 48-hour quarantine and flight.”
Wow, that’s positive.
“I try to be,” he laughs. “It's not always as easy as it sounds on the phone, but I haven't even had a chance to think about anything bad leading up to this. I've just been trying to stay as positive as I can and just enjoy this experience.”
If Stamann has learned anything over the last few months, it’s not to sweat the small stuff. Sure, the world is in a strange state at the moment, but it doesn’t compare to the pain Stamann felt when his 18-year-old brother Jacob suddenly and tragically passed away on May 27.
Devastated and a little over a week away from his June 6 bout with Brian Kelleher, Stamann decided to go ahead with the fight, if only to give his family something to smile about.
“As hard as that week was for me, I really felt like it was something I needed to do for myself, for my brother, for my family,” he said. “We didn't need any more loss or anything bad. I just put the weight of everything on myself. We needed something good to happen, and me going out and fighting well was that good thing.”
UFC 250: Cody Stamann Post Fight Interview
UFC 250: Cody Stamann Post Fight Interview
Stamann fought well, all right, so well that his unanimous decision victory over Kelleher was one of his best and most complete UFC performances to date. The win extended his current unbeaten streak to three and, in the process, showed him that when he needed to pull off a defining effort, he could.
“I think back about that week and that was a dark, hard time in my life, but having gone through it and been successful, it feels good to know that when push comes to shove and my back's against the wall and I absolutely had to perform, I had that ability and it's given me a lot of confidence moving forward.”
The 30-year-old Michigan native also found out that he’s got a lot of support in the mixed martial arts community.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Stamann. “I was one hundred percent expecting all kinds of nasty stuff, and there were some pretty thoughtless people that said some pretty negative things, but the majority of everyone in the MMA community, they were super supportive and understanding and super respectful of me and my privacy. That was surprising and an awesome surprise at that. There's a handful of bad people in this game, but there's a lot of classy good people, too. And in dark times like that, you really get a good view of who is and who isn't. And that was good for me to see that.”
It does put Stamann’s positive mindset these days in perspective, and while he expected to face off with Rivera in August, when Frankie Edgar’s bout with Pedro Munhoz was pulled off the July 15 card and moved to Las Vegas next month, the brief window when Edgar was assumed to need an opponent saw the two bantamweight contenders throw their name in the hat. That fight with Edgar didn’t pan out for either Stamann or Rivera, so they figured why not fight now at featherweight.
“It just made sense for everyone that Jimmie and I would fight a little bit sooner,” said Stamann. “For me, my biggest opponent is the scale, so the fact that I don't have to make 135 pounds, I was jumping for joy. I couldn't wait.”
There has been plenty of waiting when it comes to Stamann and Rivera already, as “The Spartan” has had his eye on a showdown with “El Terror” for quite a while.
“I actually got offered to fight him after I fought Aljamain Sterling (in September 2018), but I wasn't healthy so I couldn't do it then,” he said. “And then it came around this time and it actually made more sense because we're a little bit closer in rank. He's a solid name, he's gonna be a good opponent, I think the fight's gonna be exciting and he always comes to fight. But I've known I was gonna fight Jimmie for a long time. I've been studying and trying to figure out how I'm gonna beat him for years. It's short notice, but it's something I've been preparing for, for a long time.”
Yet the question is, if Stamann leaves Fight Island with his second UFC win at featherweight, will he stay there?
Yes and no.
“If there are opportunities at 145 pounds, if I'm successful this weekend, I think the UFC will realize that I can compete in the weight class, and any opportunities like this pop up, I think they would consider me for them,” he said. “I would love to bounce around, but '35 is definitely where I think I'll be most successful.”
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