(Foupa-Pokam’s most recent fight, against Kyacey Uscola at PFC 12 in January. The KO comes at the video’s 8:12 mark.)
UFC 97: Redemption goes down this Saturday in Montreal, and among the card’s horde of Brazilians, Canadians, and TUF vets are three dudes who will be looking to prove themselves in the Octagon for the first time. These are their stories…
BRIAN STANN (LHW)
Experience: 6-1 record primarily in the WEC, with all wins by first-round TKO. Holds victories over Aaron Stark, Steve Cantwell, and Doug Marshall.
Will be facing: Krzysztof Soszynski (16-8-1, 1-0 UFC)
Lowdown: Stann became the WEC’s light-heavyweight champion in March 2008 when he knocked out Doug Marshall at WEC 33, but lost the title in his first defense when he was TKO’d by Steve Cantwell — who Stann had defeated in a previous fight. Stann and Cantwell were supposed to have their rubber match at UFC’s "Fight for the Troops" event last December, but Stann was forced to pull out with a foot injury; Cantwell went on to snap the arm of Razak Al-Hassan then brag about it. A former Captain in the U.S. Marines and Iraq war vet, Stann was awarded the Silver Star after saving the asses of his entire 42-man platoon following an unfortunate ambush-situation near Karabilah, which was later portrayed on the History Channel show Shootout! He hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
XAVIER FOUPA-POKAM (MW)
Experience: 20-9 record (18 wins by stoppage in the first two rounds) with multiple appearances in Cage Rage and Palace Fighting Championship.
Will be facing: Denis Kang (31-11-1, 0-1 UFC)
Lowdown: Currently riding a seven-fight win streak, the 26-year-old Frenchman describes his Muay Thai-based style as "very violent." Professor X splits his training time between Team Quest in Temecula, California — where he acted as an Anderson Silva-mimic when Dan Henderson was preparing for his middleweight title fight against the Spider at UFC 82 — and Cyrille Diabate’s Snake Team in Paris. Before devoting his life to fighting, Foupa-Pokam was a cameraman and director’s assistant, and calls filmmaking his "second passion." He has three DQ losses on his record, due to an ill-fitting mouthpiece that kept falling out (in a fight against Martin Kampmann), an accidental groin strike, and an illegal elbow on the ground during an event where they weren’t allowed. Canada will be the twelfth country he’s competed in.
TJ GRANT (WW)
Experience: 13-2 record (12 wins by submission) with multiple appearances in King of the Cage and TKO, and wins over UFC vets Chad Reiner and Forrest Petz; has never competed outside of Canada.
Will be facing: Ryo Chonan (16-8, 1-2 UFC)
Lowdown: Grant is representin’ Fit Plus in his homebase of Nova Scotia, where he acts as an MMA instructor. A purple belt in jiu-jitsu under Jorge Gurgel — as well as a three-time provincial wrestling champion — Grant has rounded out his game by studying Muay Thai in Thailand. The 25-year-old has the home-field advantage in his fight against Chonan, as he’s already fought at the Bell Centre three times. In preparation for the fight, he’s been drilling his wrestling with Ben Askren.