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No one could blame Cody Stamann if he wanted to take time off following his most recent victory. But that’s just not how he’s built.
He defeated Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 just one week removed from the tragic death of his brother Jacob, who was 18 years old. Stamann cried after the win as he both celebrated and allowed the grieving process to start.
Barely six weeks later, Stamann will compete again, this time in a featherweight fight against Jimmie Rivera at UFC on ESPN 13. To hear him tell it, he knows his brother wouldn’t want it any other way.
“That’s the kind of person I am,” Stamann told MMA Fighting during a virtual media day for the event on Wednesday at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. “I don’t like to sit around and feel self-pity or feel bad for myself or be sad. I like to just kind of dust myself off, get up and keep going forward and be the best man I can.
“Not only that, but the only thing I can do now for my brother is just live the absolute best life that I can. I’m just taking advantage of every opportunity I can get and leave no stone unturned.”
In many ways, Stamann has used his fighting career as the best possible outlet to deal with his emotions during such a difficult time. He’s honoring his brother at the same time he’s learning more about himself.
“I think it’s going to help me work through everything,” Stamann said. “Fighting has definitely been one of the most positive things in my life. It’s helped me come through a lot of hard things. Fighting kind of taught me how to deal with the hard times. Fighting isn’t easy. Fighting is the hardest sport there is.
“You definitely don’t get enough credit, and fighting teaches you to be tough and to be mentally strong all the time, no matter what’s happening. Even if you’re getting your ass kicked, you have to be able to push, and that’s something as a fighter and a man that I’ve done through all this.”
While this will actually be his second straight fight at featherweight, Stamann is looking at his bout against Rivera as a chance to move forward in the bantamweight division. Both fighters usually compete at 135 pounds, but the fight came together on extremely late notice, which meant making weight might be impossible.
Now, Stamann will be healthier, happier and ready to dispatch a top-15 opponent, hopefully earning his fifth UFC win.
“I look at Jimmie kind of like a dying breed in MMA,” Stamann explained. “He’s one of those guys who really is one-dimensional. Fights in one stance. Can’t really move, but he’s really good at what he does. Really fundamentally sound. This game is constantly evolving, and I don’t think Jimmie’s evolved with it.
“I look at bantamweight as the most stacked division in the UFC right now. It’s insane how many big names and talented guys there are. Probably 1 to 20, and to be in that mix, it’s amazing. It just means I’ve got to be the top athlete I can, because there are no easy fights at the top. After watching that title fight this weekend, I feel like I’m not that far away from a fight like that.”