If you’re a fighter and your nickname is “Hands of Stone,” then it follows that you better have some impressive KO’s on your resume. If you don’t, well, people might start to call you out on your choice of fight handle.
That was the awkward spot that London, Ontario native Sam Stout found himself in for most of his UFC career. A student of the well-known kickboxing guru Shawn Thompkins, “Hands of Stone” acquired a solid reputation as an exciting, tough fighter with good technical striking. Unfortunately, his lack of clean KO victories also earned him the stigma of being “pillow-fisted”.
I blame the nickname. Fight fans take shit s*** seriously. Just listen to how angry the crowd gets the next time Geroges St-Pierre “Rush”es through another 25 minutes title defense, or the “Dead of Mean” Keith Jardine gets called a really, really great guy (usually by the dude who just knocked him out).
Luckily for Sam, that awkwardness is a thing of the past.
This past Saturday at UFC 131, Stout notched a beautiful—and scary—knockout of respected vet Yves Edwards. Not only did the win validate his choice of fight moniker, it also erased another stigma that has plagued Stout over his UFC tenure: his perception as a “middle of the pack” contender.
Oh, I know fans will debate the imponderable rankings value of an Yves Edwards KO until the cows come home. But you can’t deny that aside from Shane Carwin’s battered mug (another tragic case of fist-to-face-idosis) andKenny Florian’s Laura Flynn Boyle impersonation at Featherweight, Stout’s KO is “the story” coming off this past UFC.
It’s what fans are talking about. It’s the fight they’re rewatching on their PVR’s. It’s the gif they’re tweeting to their friends on Monday morning. Now that he’s not a “pillow-fisted gatekeeper” any more, the biggest question facing Stout is “what next?”.
Of course, I have a few thoughts on the matter. Here are the top five fights I’d like to see “Hands of Stone” take next to prove he really is a top-10 Lightweight.
Dennis Siver: C’mon now, tell me this fight would be anything but totally f****** awesome.
On the one hand, you have Stout, one of the most reliably exciting fighters in the lightweight division. He’s won “Fight of the Night” five times in his UFC career. And against him, we put a guy who could very well have just walked off the set of the latest “Universal Soldier” movie.
Siver has something of a buzz going about him currently, following his upset win over rising star George Sotiropoulos. He has a penchant for devastating people with his spinning back kick, which he throws like he’s fighting in “The Kumite” and not the UFC. His German-Russian background gives him a demeanour somewhat akin to the Terminator when he fights.
Some might doubt if Sam has the power on the feet to hang with Dennis. I think this last fight with Edwards went a long way towards answering those questions. Still, regardless of outcome, this fight would be a guaranteed fireworks display on the feet. Have those “Fight of the Night” bonus cheques written and ready to be cashed—assuming Siver beats Matt Wiman in a few weeks time, that is.
Donald Cerrone: Here’s another fight where you know—you just know—that neither guy is going to be sitting back.
“The Cowboy” has complained recently of a lack of top fighters willing to step up to the plate and throw down with him. Or a perceived lack of fighters willing to step up. Or what could possibly be construed as a perceived lack of fighters willing to step. Or maybe someone just looked at him the wrong way backstage.
Either way, Donald Cerrone is proud, pissed off, and dropping sexist and homophobic slurs like he’s “that Uncle” after too many visits to the punch bowl on New Years.
If he’s looking for a game opponent, he need look no further then Stout. Since Cerrone himself has a reputation for being “pillow-fisted”, this fight would be a good chance to erase that stigma against a fighter with an iron chin. Plus, both these guys have legit kickboxing credentials, so the stand up battle should be a heck of a lot of fun.
Anthony Pettis: Speaking of legit kickboxing creds, one need look no further in the LW division then Anthony Pettis.
Ok ok, so the guy’s no K-1 Grand Prix champion or anything. But can you really speak of the inventor of the “Showtime Kick”—as well as a dozen other funky moves he regularly debuts on opponents—without a little reverence?
I think over the course of his WEC/UFC run, Pettis has proven he is one of the better strikers in the lightweight division. Throw in his ever improving BJJ game and tendency to make fights really damn fun (see a theme emerging here?) and I see an interesting stylistic challenge—and a hell of a fight —for Sam Stout.
George Sotiropoulos: Assuming the UFC brass believes Dennis Siver to be too steep a challenge for Stout, they could always give him the man he just beat.
Up until that loss, “G-Sot” was considered 155′s hottest rising star. A BJJ prodigy under noted instructor/Gumby-meets-Towlie offspring Eddie Bravo, Sot seemed to be on the fast track to a LW title shot.
That is, until he ran smack dab into the angry left foot of Dennis Siver. Then he ran into it again. And again. 15 minutes later, and his title shot was vaporized faster then a puddle in the Australian Outback/Joe Rogan’s medicinal grade bud bud on 4/20.
This would be less of an “action” fight for Stout, as George would clearly look to take this fight to the ground rather then stand and trade. Still, Stout has “ever-improving” wrestling (thanks, Goldie!), especially take down defense. The last time he fought a guy who tried to take him down, we got the epic war that was Stout vs. Lauzon.
Spencer Fischer: Here’s my personal pick, folks. All of the above fighters would make for a damn good fight.
Only Spencer Fischer would guarantee a classic for the ages.
These men first met in Stout’s Octagon début, with Sam taking the win over late-replacement Fischer after an epic three-round battle. When they met again, a more well prepared Fischer edged Stout in another epic three-round battle.
So let me do some quick math here. Two fighters in their primes, having met twice before in two of the most exciting lightweight fights of all time, with the score tied at 1-1. Matchmaking doesn’t get any more obvious then this, ladies and gentlemen.
The UFC needs to finish this trilogy. For Spencer, for Sam, for the fans, for everyone. Epic trilogies where both men are tied one apiece in two seriously epic fights DO NOT go uncompleted. Not in any MMA universe I care to inhabit.
The UFC should book Sam vs. Spencer 3, put it on a free card, and give a fitting conclusion to one of the best trilogies in the history of the LW division.