EAST LIVERPOOL- Josh Stansbury did more than win his fifth-straight MMA fight, he also moved up the rankings in the light heavyweight division.
"The Sandman" now sits 44th of 250 ranked professionals in his weight class, a move of one position from the previous rankings released by fightmatrix.com.
Stansbury (5-2-0) also is the 18th ranked American of 87 professionals who achieved a mention, and the top American-born fighter in Ohio.
Jon "Bones" Jones (19-1-0), who recently captured an unanimous decision against Alexander Gustafsson (15-2-0) at UFC 165, is atop the light heavyweight division, which also includes familiar names such as Lyoto Mahida, Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson and "Rampage" Jackson.
For Stansbury, the victory against rival "Big" John Hawk in the main event of "Rock n Rumble 7" on Aug. 24 at Jacob's Pavilion, Cleveland, now allows him to advance his focus on the sport.
"It helped build my confidence to move forward to bigger and better things and keep the ball rolling," said Stansbury, who lost to Hawk in his professional debut back in 2009.
The 28-year-old graduate of East Liverpool High School says he received some inspiration from the crowd during the recent Hawk fight.
"Halfway through the fight the chants of "Sandman" overpowered any noise in that place," said Stansbury. "I can't even explain how much that motivated me. I'm very thankful for that."
Stansbury said the "huge" contingent of East Liverpool fans that turned out that day gave him a morale boost on his way to victory and defending his North American Allied Fight Series light heavyweight title.
For Stansbury, Hawk, as mentioned, wasn't just another opponent. The two fighters had a long history dating back to 2009, when Hawk handed Stansbury one of his two professional losses. That fight was the professional debut of both fighters, and left Stansbury hungry for redemption.
Stansbury got that redemption, punishing Hawk through three rounds to win by unanimous decision
"It was sweet revenge," said Stansbury.
The local product says his training paid off as he used his mobility and quickness to keep the fight from going to the ground. Stansbury's boxing background came in handy, too, as he was able land punch after punch on Hawk.
Stansbury says he has longtime boxing coach John Bailey to thank for instilling him with sound boxing skills early on in his career. He also noted that conditioning was a major factor in his victory over Hawk and thanked strength and conditioning trainer Tom Beagle of Team Impact for helping him go the distance. Stansbury also thanked Joey Holt, Johnathan Arnett, and Justin Steave, three friends acting as cornermen the night of the fight.
With a win against Hawk now behind him, Stansbury says he ready to move forward and hopefully take his fighting career to the next level.
For now, the East Liverpool residents says he wouldn't mind getting in "1 or 2 more fights" before the end of the year. His long term goal is to get into a major fighting league.
"I just want to keep climbing the ladder," said Stansbury.
To facilitate that climb he has continued to train as hard as ever, getting back into the gym at Team Impact almost immediately following his fight.
"I'm just trying to stay in shape so I don't have to get back in shape," he explained.
No matter what's next for Stansbury, it's clear the city of East Liverpool will be watching.