Originally published at FightNews.com
Story by Anthony Springer, Jr.
It’s not unreasonable to think people are expecting a finish every time you step in the Octagon when your nickname is “Hands of Stone.”
With a moniker that screams “knockout artist,” Sam Stout (21-5) isn’t concerned about the lack of exciting finishes on his UFC resume. Prior to his 2006 debut, Stout, 26, recorded six stoppages in ten fights.
According to Stout, the lack of knockouts is hardly a sign of a decline in punching power; it’s a testament to the caliber of fighter in the UFC today.
“Despite the fact that I haven’t knocked anyone out in the UFC, I think I hit pretty hard,” Stout says of his power.
He continues, “These guys in the UFC are tough. We’re all training full time. We’re working on ways to become better and it makes it a lot more difficult to finish guys. Guys aren’t just working on offense, they’re doing defense too. It’s very difficult to finish a UFC fighter.”
Though none of his Octagon wins came before the final round, none of the lightweight fighter’s victories can be considered boring. Three of his six victories earned Fight of the Night Honors. Another, a loss to Spencer Fisher at UFC Fight Night 10, also garnered that accolade. Stout would love to replace the blemish on his record to Fisher, even if it meant giving up the award and the extra cash that comes with it.
“The Fight of the Night is great and the money is great, but I think any fighter would say [they want the win],” Stout explains. “We’re athletes first. There’s a lot of pride in the sport. Winning is what it really comes down to, not so much the money.”
Pride is one thing, but it doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table. Stout admits he was hesitant to make fighting a full time job, but after the wins began to rack up, he found training and holding down a job too difficult.
“I think I was 21 at the time,” says Stout, who was working as a paramedic before the transition. “Things got to be too much and financially it started to make more sense and that’s when I started treating it as a full time job.”
The leap of faith paid big dividends. Today, Stout is fighting on the world’s biggest MMA stage and is a rising star in the stacked lightweight division. Still, he acknowledges the high risk, high reward environment he’s dedicated his life to. In many ways, Stout says he prepared for a life in the sport long before he put on his first pair of gloves.
“It’s a nerve racking thing to make that commitment [to fight full time]. There’s not a lot of job security in MMA. Something could happen to you at any time, and then what? You’ve gotta be smart with your money on this business. Those values were instilled at me at a young age. I was always aware of the decision I was making. Luckily it’s worked out well so far.”
Coming off two victories over Matt Wiman and Joe Lauzon, Stout looks to extend his streak when he meets Jeremy Stephens this Saturday at UFC 113. If you believe the adage that styles make fights, Stephens’ style is tailor made for “Hands of Stone” to get that coveted UFC finish. Both men love to stand and trade and Stout makes no secrets about his state of mind concerning the fight.
“I’m going to try and stay a step ahead of him when it comes to the striking,” Stout says. “Move my feet a lot and my head a lot. Going to try and beat him to the punch.”
No matter the outcome, Stout promises a fight full of fireworks.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” he says of Stephens. “He’s got a lot of power and explosiveness in the cage. Going to make for an interesting fight.”