'Don't blink!' says Stout
Story by David L. Hudson
Some fighters just make entertaining fights plain and simple. Chris Lytle, for example, will never have the talent of an Anderson Silva or B.J. Penn but he routinely engages in thrilling wars that endear him to anyone who appreciates mixed martial arts – including UFC President Dana White.
Another fighter with a penchant for thrilling combat is lightweight striker Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout. To carry the moniker of the legendary Roberto Duran, a fighter must be able to deliver some powerful blows and Stout can really pack a punch and deliver a kick. He has earned three Fight of the Night awards — two for his classic wars with Spencer Fisher in 2006 and 2007 and in his last fight when he defeated Matt Wiman by split decision at UFC 97. He recently took time to speak with Fightnews about his upcoming fight on Ultimate Fight Night 19 against Philippe Nover, his career and other topics.
How has training been and how are you feeling?
I’m feeling good, looking good and training has been great. I’ve been training with a great group of guys, including Tyson Griffin, Mike Pyle, Vitor Belfort and others.
What are your impressions of your upcoming opponent Philippe Nover?
I’ve trained with him before and think he is a really talented guy. Even though he has taken a couple of losses, I certainly am not taking him lightly, as he is a tough competitor.
You’ve won Three Fight of the Night awards in the UFC. Why are you involved in great fights frequently?
I think it is a couple things. First of all, I do go out there with that on mind a little bit. I don’t just want to do what I have to get a win. I want to get a win that people will remember and give them something to remember. Also, I like to push the pace which makes for better action. Also, I can take a punch and I can deliver a good one. That makes for an entertaining combination. Plus, I think heart has something to do with it too.
You lost your debut in professional MMA back in 2003 to Jay Estrada. What did you learn from that experience?
I was pretty much a kickboxer trying to fight MMA. I learned quickly that you have to work on all aspects of the game. I later avenged that loss [Stout defeated Jay Estrada in a rematch in 2006] by TKO. I realized quickly that you can’t just be good at one thing. I’m still working on that every day, trying to improve all aspects of my game.
How did you develop such excellent striking skills with your hands and feet?
I had a lot of amateur kickboxing experience so I’ve had a lot of experience with striking. I also work with Sean Tompkins, a great boxing and kickboxing coach.
I know you are not looking past Nover or focused on anything other than him now, but are there any other fights or opponents you’d like to face?
I would love to do a trilogy with Spencer Fisher at some point. We last fought back in 2007 and now we’re 1-1. It just makes sense to do a third fight. Both of our previous fights made the top 100 fights in UFC history. It just makes sense to do it.
You are in the lightweight division where B.J. Penn is the champion. Is he clearly the best?
Yes, if B.J. shows up in shape I don’t think anyone can beat him right now.
Fans and writers are always talking about the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. As a fighter with real knowledge, who do you think is the best?
I’d say it is hard to argue with Anderson Silva the way he has been running through people lately. You could say B.J. or GSP but I just feel with the way Silva has been dismantling guys, it would be pretty tough to pick anyone other than him.
What are your goals in MMA?
I just want to keep improving and become the best fighter I can be. I want to be the best at whatever I do – inside or outside the cage.
Any message for your fans?
Thanks for your support, I really appreciate it. I rarely hear a negative thing from anybody and your support helps drive me to become a better fighter.
Finally, any prediction on your upcoming fight on Fight Night?
I predict it is going to be an exciting fight. I am going to do everything I can to come out with the win. It will be exciting, so don’t blink.
. . . .
— David L. Hudson Jr. is a feature writer for Fightnews.com and the author of Combat Sports: An Encyclopedia of Wrestling, Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts.