For Cody Stamann, the weeks ahead of UFC 250 were unimaginable. Not something you would wish on your worst enemy. And yet, where many would choose to take time off — be it from a fight, a competition of any kind, a job — Stamann chose to push onward.
Ahead of his showdown with Brian Kelleher on Saturday in Las Vegas, Stamann received devastating news. His 18-year old brother, Jacob, had passed away in his sleep.
It’s the type of thing that shouldn’t happen, not to someone still starting out in life. That Stamann could overcome the tragedy and still compete was inspiring. The dam finally bursting following his win over Kelleher fully understandable. And hopefully cathartic.
“I’ve been cracking at the seams this whole time, I’ve been fighting tears all day,” Stamann said in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. “The second that fight was over, I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. Even sitting down between rounds, if I have a second to myself to think about what’s happening, I just start to ball up. I just had to keep my sh*t together, I had to be a man and suck it up and do my job to the best of my ability and I’m pretty fortunate that I was able to hold it together.”
The entire UFC 250 card was enshrouded with tragedy. The coronavirus pandemic. Economies sinking before our eyes. Civil unrest in America. Multiple killings of innocent human beings, resulting in even more unrest. A nation divided. Yet for Stamann, the tragedy was personal in a way it wasn’t for most of us.
Yet that being said, he chose to compete. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press during a virtual post-fight media scrum at UFC 250, Stamann explained that “When someone passes, all you can do is honor them. By being a better person. And doing better, and being the person maybe they wanted you to be. So I just asked myself, what would Jake want me to do? I can say without a doubt, he’d want me to fight. And that’s exactly what I did.”
“There’s a million people going through a million things right now, the world’s upside down and crazy. I’m not the only one that’s in the hot seat, having to make difficult decisions,” he continued. “We’re going through difficult times. I just did what I had to do.”
Now, after seven months without seeing his family, Stamann will return home. Hopefully to find some closure.