Mourning brother, Stamann to fight at UFC 250
Cody Stamann will continue to compete this weekend despite the death of his brother.
Stamann is scheduled to fight Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 on Saturday in Las Vegas. On May 27, Stamann learned that his 18-year-old brother Jacob died. Stamann told ESPN that an official cause of death has not yet been determined.
Even with the tragedy, Stamann said he never really considered pulling out of his fight. Jacob was a high-level youth wrestler and huge fan of his older brother. Stamann said he will dedicate Saturday's bout to his memory.
"I just looked at it like, what would my brother want me to do?" Stamann said. "This is something that's important to my family, important to a lot of people that are close to me in my life. Who would I be if I said, 'This is too much, I can't do my job.' A lot of people have to do their jobs regardless of things going on. I'm privileged to have the athletic career that I have, to have the family that I have, to have all these things.
"I don't necessarily feel special. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Obviously, my heart is shattered. I'm heartbroken. There's no good way to grieve, there's no right way to grieve. I don't know how to do it. All I know is my brother wanted me to be the UFC champ, and I'm gonna do everything I can to make that a reality."
Stamann said that after the card he will fly home to Michigan -- Stamann currently lives and trains in Las Vegas -- for a small gathering with family and close friends to remember Jacob. While there, Stamann said he will talk with community leaders in Grand Rapids about the best way to set up a foundation under Jacob's name. He's hoping to assist youth wrestlers in the area and figure out the "best way to help as many people as possible."
"I want to do something to help the youth in West Michigan," Stamann said. "It's gonna be something West Michigan-based, whether it's a gym, a place they can go, some kind of big brother system. We haven't worked it out. I've had to get ready for a fight, I've had to mourn the loss of my brother, and I'm trying to do this all at once."
Stamann said he wants to try his best so that what happened to Jacob doesn't happen to anyone else.
"He was so talented," Stamann said. "I was a talented athlete, but my talent was paled in comparison to his. He was so good that he just didn't have to work as hard as everyone else. He almost got bored with it. He was so good, he was so smart, he was so athletically gifted. You see that all the time, you see kids if they don't stay on that path -- kids that are that talented and that savvy -- they either absolutely excel or they go down a bad path. Unfortunately, he was going down that path. We didn't really know the extent of what he was up to before it was too late."
Stamann said he trained the day he found out the news about Jacob. Going to the gym, he said, has been somewhat therapeutic.
"I found out, I basically canceled all my interviews for the next day," Stamann said. "But I went to practice that day. The guys that I train with, the guys that I spend time with in the gym, they're my best friends. Going to the gym, if there's a group of people that support me it's those guys. My coaches, my training partners, the guys I see every day. We know the intimate details of each other's lives. When I go to the gym, it's positive. It's good energy. It's good to be around people that you respect and care about and that care about you in tough times."
Stamann (18-2-1) is unbeaten in two straight fights and looking to put together a run. This bout with Kelleher is at featherweight, but Stamann and Kelleher are both rising bantamweight fighters competing a weight class up.
Stamann, 30, has just one loss going back to 2014 and is considered someone to watch in the division. On a card that also features top bantamweights like Aljamain Sterling, Cory Sandhagen, Cody Garbrandt, Raphael Assuncao, Sean O'Malley and Eddie Wineland, Stamann figures this could be the perfect time for him to carve out his niche.
"You're talking about all these guys in the top 10 fighting, and then me and Kelleher are both streaking right now -- huge fight for bantamweight," Stamann said.
And a fight in which he'll carry with him a heavy heart, one he'll enter the cage for in honor of his brother.
"[It means] everything," Stamann said. "What else can I do? I've just gotta go out there and fight like my life depends on it, because it does."
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