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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Brian Stann's "Heart for the Fight" succeeds on two levels: one as a military memoir and the other as a tale from the trenches of mixed martial arts (MMA). Stann deftly weaves the story of his Marine career with his rise as a mixed martial artist. On the latter journey, he starts as a raw amateur drilling in a Marine Corps self-defense program, graduating to amateur bouts and then getting a toehold in the pro circuit. Eventually, Stann joins the WEC and even wins the light-heavyweight belt. Later, the WEC decides to fold the LW division and Stann is picked up by the premier MMA organization, the UFC, where he resumes his career.

The recurring theme of "Heart for the Fight" is perseverance and a "never say die" attitude toward life and adversity (the former always bringing a dose of the latter). Stann struggles:

* To survive in the gritty part of Scranton, PA as a boy
* To get into the US Naval Academy
* To get through the Academy
* To make the Navy football team and then to play
* To learn the reins of leadership by leading Marines into combat in Iraq
* To successfully fight off a (false) court martial charge of sexual assault
* To learn MMA and to rise through setbacks and defeats

Stann skillfully alternates the book's narrative between hair-raising firefights in Iraq and the MMA cage. If you enjoy military memoirs, you will like the book. For the MMA fan, it will be a fun read. If you enjoy both, the book is a treat. It is a genuine story of blood, sweat, r=tears and sacrifice for a goal. (For those interested in an inside glimpse of the training program that Greg Jackson runs in Albuquerque, NM, Stann's book is worth the price of admission alone.

We often hear that, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog." Stann's book is an embodiment of that adage. (Of course, if you combine a BIG (i.e., 205-lb.) dog with a lot of "heart for the fight," you have a tough combination. You have, well . . . a Brian Stann.)

The takeaways for me is to fight through adversity, fight through setbacks and never quit. That sounds trite, but Stann illustrates these principles without being preachy.

"Heart for the Fight" also underscores the phrase long heard, "Once a Marine - always a Marine." You're IN the Navy or In the Army or In the Air Force but you ARE a Marine. Though Stann has left The Corps, he still considers himself a Marine and embodies the Semper Fi, never say die spirit of the warrior.

Another takeaway for me was the importance of adaptation as a key to growth and development. Stann entered MMA as a knockout machine, a somewhat one-dimensional punching beast. He learned through a few defeats that he needed to become multi-dimensional, adding mobility and grappling skills to his game in order to survive, advance and grow. Good life advice, come to think of it!

As MMA memoirs go, this one may be the best-written I have ever read. "Heart for the Fight" is an inspiring memoir and a reminder that tough times don't last, but tough people do...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Brian Stann and John Bruning get kudos for creating a surprising, and highly entertaining read about Stann's journey from street-wise kid to the Marine Corp, to the world of top-level mixed martial arts competition. Up to now, I confess to secretly thinking that mixed martial arts athletes were just slightly more legitimate than the flamboyant pro wrestlers of yore (think Jesse the Body Ventura), but I must now humbly withdraw that prejudice. Stann's book reveals an intelligent and perceptive view of two worlds: the US Marine Corp and the world of mixed martial arts, where Brian is beginning what should be a promising career. Part military adventure story, part sports story, and part self-revealing biography, this book shows a polish and native talent that you rarely see in first-time authors. Brian Stann is not only a real war hero, not only a promising world-class athlete, but also a legitimately talented story-teller.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I really enjoyed Brian Stann's book. It is well written and gives multiple levels of insight into what makes him the person he is.

While Stann may never become a top contender in the world of MMA (he has enormous heart and incredible raw talent BUT he goy into the game late in life and is way behind the 8 ball going up against other journey man level fighters who have 20+ years of fight experience at his age) He is an incredible famly man, American Hero, and human being.

I found his life stories and experiences inspiring.
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on July 26, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I admit I favored Brian Stann as an MMA fighter just because he was a former Marine, like me...and this is one of the reasons this book stood out. But unlike me (or most of us), he's been through some of the craziest trials and tribulations a man can go through and overcome them with such unbreakable fortitude--unfathomable for most people. This man epitomizes what a TRUE hero is...what a leader should be...and any Marine would have been greatly honored to have served under him.

Reading this book was a page-turner in every sense of the word(s), and will surely give readers a whole new respect for our combatants, elite MMA athletes, and most certainly the man himself, Brian Stann. There are numerous unofficial books recommended by units within the Marine Corps, and I think this should be a new addition to the club for EVERY Marine or civilian. It will unquestionably inspire everyone who reads it, and it would be a shame if Hollywood didn't turn this into a feature-length movie. You want a real All-American story with all the grit and grime that comes from fighting your whole life, finished off with that great American dream? This is it.
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on June 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
From the perspective of someone who's lacked exposure but has always been intrigued by the Marine Corps and MMA, this book reveals aspects of both worlds through the incredible journey of Brian Stann.

More importantly, I was inspired. I felt a very tangible connection with Brian's values that were developed and tested in his journey and I have gained tremendous respect for his actions.

I've never really cared for the UFC, but I'll be rooting for Brian Stann from now on. Not only for the man, but for the ideals and people that he represents.
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on June 17, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Loved this book. It talks about his experiences growing up, to going to the Naval Academy, then going to the Marines and then making it to the UFC. It talks about his experiences in Afghanistan, losing some of his soldiers under his command, etc. A great read, it gives you a little bit of everything if you are a person that likes to read about war and/or someone who likes to read about MMA.
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on April 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a firsthand account of what it's like to live the American dream, telling the reader what it's like to go from the rough neighborhoods of Scranton, Pennsylvania to the streets of Iraq, and end up fighting in the Octagon. This book is a testament to the fact that anyone in America can achieve what they put their mind to as long as they are willing to work hard and remain focused.
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on April 18, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am an MMA fan and have read several other biographies of MMA fighters. This one is the best I have come across in that it has a narrative structure, rather than being a collection of recollections, observations, and inspirational pep talk.

I have been a fan of Stann's since his days in the WEC, and appreciate him in his new role as a UFC commentator as well.

The book covers his own introduction to violence in a rough school district, the perseverance of a non-starter on the Naval Academy's football team, surviving an allegation of sexual assault, combat service in Iraq as a rookie Marine officer, and his spare-time MMA training and early WEC fights. Chapters alternate between his biography and his fights.

The writing is crisp and clean, and communicates Stann's desire to use the microphone afforded pro fighters to publicize the service and sacrifices of the men in the platoon he commanded, and of his Naval Academy classmates.

I enjoyed the book and gained new respect for Stann for having read it. It will be interesting to see if Stann proves to be one of the last of the generation of part-time fighters who competed at the elite level of MMA, since the sport is developing so quickly now.
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on April 8, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have ready many books about fighters, by fighters, about war and its veterans. I enjoy the stories of people who have been through more than most and dont bitch about the outcome. If you like books about tough people going through hell and coming out on the other side with more knowledge about themselves and the humans around them, then this is a book for you!
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on December 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Loved this book and really gets to what makes Stann tick and why he fought in the octagon to honor his men. Great read!
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