Heart for the Fight: A Marine Hero's Journey from the Battlefields of Iraq to Mixed Martial Arts Champion

Heart for the Fight: A Marine Hero's Journey from the Battlefields of Iraq to Mixed Martial Arts Champion

by Brian Stann, John R. Bruning


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This is the story of a kid from the wrong side of Scranton who made it to the Naval Academy, played linebacker for the Navy football team for four years, became a Marine officer, graduated first in his infantry officer class, led his men in two intense combat tours in the Anbar Province, received the Silver Star for gallantry, and now has emerged as one of the most interesting figures on the mixed martial arts (MMA) professional circuit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616739898
Publisher: Zenith Press
Publication date: 11/10/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 561,614
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Brian Stann served two tours in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom III and IV. As a Marine platoon leader during Operation Matador, he received the Silver Star for valor after his unit encountered vastly superior enemy forces. Brian isa 2003 Annapolis graduate andwas starting linebacker on the Naval Academy football team. A former light-heavyweight champion in the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting), he now fights in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the "big leagues" of mixed martial arts. He is also president of Hired Heroes, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that finds employment for America’s veterans.

John R. Bruning has been a professional military historian and writer since 1990. He is the author of Crimson Sky: The Air Battle for Korea, Jungle Ace, Elusive Glory, Ship Strike Pacific, Luck of the Draw, and The Devil’s Sandbox: With the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry at War in Iraq. He served as an embedded civilian historian with the 2/162 during Operation Southern Comfort, the post–Hurricane Katrina relief operation in New Orleans. Bruning also has numerous articles, documentaries, multimedia CD-ROM programs, flight simulators, and museum displays to his credit. He lives in Independence, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I Confidence

1 The Man in the Arena 15

2 Rematch 25

3 Reality Check 31

Part II Resolve

4 I-Day 37

5 Plebe Summer 45

6 No Effort without Error 57

7 Great Devotions 67

8 Seventy to Seven 73

9 Stumbles 83

10 The Leadership Factory 89

11 Errors and Shortcomings 103

Part 111 The Wild West

12 360-Degree Firefight 111

13 Hard Road South 125

14 Midnight Run 131

15 Slow Motion Nightmare 139

16 A Night of Heroes 151

17 Siege at Ramana Bridge 161

Part IV Reinvention

18 The Fifth Stage 179

19 Invitation to Albuquerque 195

20 The Scarlet Letter 209

21 One Mind: Any Weapon 221

22 Benchwarmer's Guilt 231

23 The Birthplace of Character 243

24 Rumble in the Rose Garden 253

25 Triple Six 259

26 Title Shot 265

27 Warrior to Warrior 275

Part V Redefinition

28 Gut Check 283

29 The Passing of an Era 295

Acknowledgments 308

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Fight Magazine

Brian Stann knows a thing or two about fighting—he’s been doing it the last 29 years. From fighting off gangs as a kid to serving as a Marine Officer in the Middle East to stepping into the Octagon, Stann has chewed some steel. His new book, Heart for the Fight, documents his trials and tribulations.


Reason to Read: Stann is a badass. There’s just no other way to describe him. If he never wins another fight in the Octagon, he’ll still be a badass. The man led his troops through two intense combat tours and received a Silver Star for gallantry. Now, he fights for the UFC and works as Executive Director of HireHeroes USA, a link to job opportunities for servicemen and women.

Ground and Pound (Vancouver Sun MMA blog)

“Heart for the Fight is a heckuva read that takes you from Stann's rough and tumble childhood years to college football glory, the front lines in Iraq and a WEC title. Definitely worth the cover price - a surprisingly insightful and interesting read.”

Brawl Sports (Houston Chronicle)

Fighter autobiographies are nothing new, but Heart for the Fight stands alone. His story is completely unique, but it's a willingness to open up and identify his own flaws and his own emotions that separates Stann from the crowd. It's a must-read and a valuable look at one of the good guys in the MMA world.



Sport biographies are often predictable and tend to focus on athletic prowess. Duh, right? Perhaps that's what makes the majority of these stories boring to me...I've heard it all before. Which is why Heart for the Fight was such a refreshing read. You see, Heart for the Fight tells the story of former WEC champion Brian Stann, and it's hardly about MMA alone. In fact, I wouldn't even call this a book about an MMA fighter specifically. Rather, it's the story of war hero that's already done more with his life than most…


Think about that: Stann made it through tough times in Scranton, played football for Navy, served his country as a platoon commander in Iraq, and now fights professionally in MMA. That's a book by itself. Add in his relationship with his wife and some controversy surrounding allegations made by a woman and you have one gripping page turner.


Heart for the Fight is one of the better sports biographies I've read in a long time because it's not all about sports—it's about the heroic spirit of a man that has done more in his short time on earth than many do in a lifetime. Don't pick this book up if you're looking for a cookie cutter story on an MMA athlete. Rather, pick it up if you want to be inspired. I highly recommend it.


Heart for the Fight, Brian Stann’s story of how he went from Navy football player to U.S. Marine to UFC fighter, is like no other sports book you’ll ever read. And no, that’s not hyperbole.


In a sense, it should go without saying that Stann’s book would stand out from the pack. After all, it’s hard to think of another athlete, in any sport, who’s seen and done what Stann has.

However, it’s not just that Stann has a remarkable story. It’s that it’s told in a remarkable way.

Where most professional athletes work with a sportswriter when putting their stories in print, Stann opted for John R. Bruning, a professional military historian. With Bruning’s help, Stann has crafted a memoir that reads like a movie, complete with plot twists, foreshadowing, and most of all, well executed non-linear storytelling.


…while fans may pick up Heart for the Fight for the MMA content, it’s the stories from Iraq that resonate the most, and this is as it should be. As Stann states at several points during the book, the Marines he fought with in Iraq—both those who died, and those who came home with him—are the driving force behind his MMA career, and any understanding of who Stann is as a fighter has to include the horrors he endured in Iraq.


Today, Brian Stann fights in the UFC, an organization known around the world with its slogan, ‘As Real As It Gets.’ However, as Heart for the Fight shows, more so than anyone who has stepped into the Octagon, Brian Stann has lived those words.

“Respect is a quality that is earned over time. Respect is given those who put others in front of themselves, to people who do tasks that others would shy away from, and to those who work tirelessly in order to provide for themselves and their family. After reading his book, Heart for the Fight, the only word that will come to your mind about Brian Stann is respect. This is an autobiography about a man who has been through and seen so much more than the average American citizen…When you finish reading this book, it becomes evident that ‘All-American’ is not just his MMA nickname, it's exactly what he is.” - Bleacher Report, September 7, 2010


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