Alessio Sakara Believes He Has The Advantage Standing Up, On The Ground Against UFC on FUEL TV 2 Opponent Brian Stann
By Tom Taylor
Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara has not fought in Europe since 2008. On April 14, however, he will finally fight on his native continent again— and he’ll do it against an American war hero. It will all go down at UFC on FUEL TV 2, which will take place in Stockholm, Sweden.
The event will be anchored by a fight that promises to be extremely entertaining— a light- heavyweight showdown between hometown hero Alexander Gustafsson and his opponent Thiago Silva. Sakara’s fight will provide support as the co-main event, as he locks horns with United States Marine and Silver Star recipient, Brian Stann.
Just a week away from the impending challenge, Sakara took time out his schedule to speak with Full Contact Fighter from his home in Rome, Italy.
Both Sakara and Stann have lost their most recent fights and will be looking to get their careers back on track in Sweden. Only one will be able to walk away with the ‘W,’ however, and in a fight between two strikers like Sakara and Stann, the likelihood of a knockout and the further derailment of one man’s career is a distinct possibility.
Historically, both men have opted to keep most of their fights standing, banking on their striking techniques as a key to victory. This will be the game plan against Stann, too, Sakara says.
“My plan is to fight standing on my feet, give one hundred percent, and display a great show. I want to entertain all the fans,” Sakara said. He believes he has an advantage on the ground, too, should the fight hit the canvas.
“They say I have a technique advantage in these two areas, but the point is that I want to win the fight standing,” he added.
In Stann’s most recent outing, he fell to current number one contender, Chael Sonnen. Despite this, Sakara still considers Stann a top-of-the-heap middleweight. A win over Stann would propel Sakara upwards through the middleweight ranks, pushing him one step closer to a title shot.
A title shot is not a pressing goal for him, however.
“I rate Stann as a top middleweight”, he said. “My main goal is showing consistency in my performance, and improvement. The belt will be a consequence of this consistency,” he elaborated.
Sakara is also respectful of Stann’s status as an American war hero, but he will not let Stann’s accolades affect the way the fight unfolds.
“Stann’s veteran status is highly regarded for me as a person and citizen, but it will not interfere in the way I’m training for the match and it will not add more value in the way I rate Stann as an MMA fighter,” he said.
A win over Stann would have serious implications for the Italian’s career, but he says he is motivated by more than just increasing his stock in the middleweight division. As the only native Italian in the UFC, and the face of Italian MMA, Sakara says representing Italy in the UFC is a serious motivator for him.
“I’m proud to represent my country and I hope to honour Italy day in, day out, in and out of The Octagon. Being the only Italian fighter in the UFC is a big motivation for me— the best fuel of energy.” Given this, Sakara is pleased to see the UFC making so many returns to Europe.
“Fighting in my continent makes me happier because it will be easier for my Italian fans to reach Stockholm for the match.”
Despite his elation with the UFC holding shows in Europe, Sakara admits he won’t be satisfied until the UFC makes a stop in Rome. The UFC has recently been flirting with the idea of holding an event in Paris, so the possibility of an Italian event might not be unrealistic.
“I dream the UFC will come to Rome, inside the Coliseum, and they say dreams sometimes come true. It would mean so much to honour my roots at home and all my people’s support would make everything easier for me,” said Sakara.
He fights for his fans, and like a gladiator of old, the man they call “Legionarius” says it’s the roar of the crowd that motivates him to fight.
“What I truly love when fighting is the people screaming louder and louder. When I’m in The Octagon and I feel the people’s enthusiasm, it drives me crazy.”