Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | 2:11 p.m.
Brian Stann, who fights for the World Extreme Cagefighting light heavyweight championship Wednesday at the Hard Rock, has anything but a typical background for a mixed martial arts fighter.
A Marine officer who played football for four years at the Naval Academy, Stann was awarded a Silver Star for valor against the enemy in combat in Iraq.
Stann, who received the award in 2006, was singled out for his bravery in a speech by President Bush.
"My experiences in combat in Iraq have certainly molded and shaped the way I lived my life," Stann said. "I've lost a lot of friends and we've lost a lot of Marines during this war.
"The way you best remember those fallen friends and fallen heroes is really to live your life 100 percent all the time, because you never know how short it can be or how long you have to make a difference.
"That's the big thing to me. The medal itself wasn't something I went over there hoping to win. I just went over there hoping to do my job and lead my men the best I can."
Stann fights Doug "The Rhino" Marshall for the WEC 205-pound belt in a featured fight on a card at the Joint that will be shown on Versus (Cox cable channel 67) beginning at 6 p.m.
Stann (5-0 mixed martial arts) became attracted to MMA fighting while training to become an officer, figuring the rigors of the sport would help him in his military career.
"I thought it would help me think analytically through a battle and deal with anxiety and nerves and things of that nature," said Stann, who was born on a military base in Japan and graduated from Scranton (Pa.) High School. "In hindsight, where I thought fighting would help me prepare for combat, combat has certainly helped prepare me for fighting."
Marshall (7-2) brings a three-fight winning streak into the match is coming off a 55-second submission of Ariel Gandulla in December.
"He holds the title and he has defended it twice, and that's a significant accomplishment," Stann said. "I couldn't say my plan is to take him out early. I just plan on winning the fight. Whether it's the first, second, third, fourth or fifth round, I don't care."
On the undercard, it's Ed Ratcliff vs. Marcus Hicks; Steve Cantwell vs. Tim McKenzie; Hiromitsu Miura vs. Blas Avena; John Alessio vs. Brock Larson; Sergio Gomez vs. Richard Crunkilton; Ryan Stonitsch vs. Alex Serdyukov; Chris Manuel vs. Kenji Osawa; and Logan Clark vs. Bryan Baker.
Tickets are $25 through $200 and available at the Hard Rock box office or Ticketmaster (ticketmaster.com).