Cody Stamann did not have the year he was hoping for in 2021, in terms of his fighting career.
“If it could go wrong, it did. It was a tough year,” Stamann told the Top Turtle Podcast on Cageside Press ahead of his return at this Saturday’s UFC 270. “Professionally, it was a tough year for me. Outside of fighting, last year was a great year in my life, but if you look at it on paper, it didn’t look good.”
What it looked like, frankly, was a mess, though not one of Stamann’s making. The bantamweight had been scheduled to face Merab Dvalishvili in December 2020, a fight later pushed back to February of 2021. When Dvalishvili was hit with COVID-19, Andre Ewell stepped up as a replacement. Ewell then tested positive for COVID-19 as well; he was replaced by Askar Askar — who was pulled from the fight on the day of.
Eventually, the fight with Dvalishvili was rebooked for May, with Stamann losing a decision. He hasn’t fought since.
“When this fight opportunity popped up [at UFC 270], this has been booked since I think October. They asked me, I was begging my manager, please get me on a card before the end of the year,” Stamann said of the struggle to get active since that May setback. “Said [Nurmagomedov]’s name came up, I said yes immediately, I’m like ‘yes let’s do it.’ He’s like ‘the only thing is it’s in January.’ I’m like ‘January, really?’ Four months out, it seems like a ton of time.”
Time flew by for Stamann, however, and his date with Nurmagomedov comes at an opportune time. “I’m excited it’s happening early in the year and I can get two or three [fights] to make up for sh*t last year.”
What Cody Stamann wants, moving forward, is simple: fights that mean something. Big fights.
“In an ideal year, I go and I have the performance I think I’m capable of against Said, I think I’ll be able to call my shot. Maybe get a shot at Sean O’Malley,” Stamann suggested, before admitting “probably not.”
But even if it’s not the “Suga Show” fighter, Stamann wants the best. “For me, it’s always, I want to fight the toughest guys. It doesn’t make sense to me— how much longer am I really going to do this? I want fights that matter. I don’t want 15 fights that don’t matter, I want eight fights that really really matter, that mean something, so that when I walk away from this sport, I can say I fought the best to ever do it.”
There are a lot of legends in the 135lb division right now, Stamann pointed out. “Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, TJ Dillashaw. All these guys that are quote-unquote the GOATs of the bantamweight division, or other divisions. Those are the kind of guys I want on my resume. I want the big fights, I want the best guys to ever do it. Just to know. Just to know, how do I stack up against these guys? And honestly, I think from just a technique standpoint, where I am in my career, where they are, those are the best fights I could take.”
Cody Stamann returns against Said Nurmagomedov on Saturday, January 22, 2022 as part of the UFC 270 main card live on PPV.