One of the drawbacks to having “Hands of Stone” is that after a while, they become heavy, and the one carrying those stones may need to take a rest to recharge the batteries.
That’s exactly what Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout did since dropping his last fight, and he is recharged coming into his UFC 185 matchup against Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, March 14.
“Training is going well,” Stout said. “I took a good six months where I hit a little pads here and there. I stayed in shape but I didn’t train for a fight. I didn’t spar or do anything that was hard on my body, and it gave me time to heal up some nagging injuries.
With both Stout and Pearson coming off knockout losses, this fight will answer many questions for the fighters, who have nearly 60 professional fights between them. After so many, one’s chin comes into the question after suffering a knockout.
“There’s a lot on the line here,” Sam said. “We are going to go out there and give it our all. I’m not worried about my chin. My last fight against KJ Noons, I got hit by a punch I didn’t see coming, so I’m not worried. I don’t know if Ross is going to feel the same but I intend to go out there and pressure him, to get in his face and do the things I know I can do.”
Stout is batting .500 in the UFC, with nine wins and nine losses. He’s been in deep water inside the Octagon many times, and he’s had his fair share of wars that have resulted in many performance bonuses, but there’s no secret that he hasn’t been the same since the passing of his coach and brother-in-law Shawn Tompkins.
But the London, Ontario native says he’s back, and that can’t be good news for Pearson.
“I’m hungry again,” he said. “Not to make any excuses, but even before my last fight, my heart wasn’t into it. It wasn’t into training, it wasn’t into fighting, I was miserable doing it. And stepping away from it a little bit made me see what I was missing. I was taking it for granted a bit. You’re going to see the old Sam Stout in this fight.”
These days, Stout has a new coach in kickboxing champ Rino Belcastro, who has a fight team in Windsor, Ontario. Belcastro was a former sparring partner to Stout’s teammate and now-retired UFC featherweight Mark Hominick.
“Rino’s team reminds me of Team Tompkins ten years ago. There are a lot of young and hungry guys, and it reminds me of when I first started in the sport, when I was climbing up the rankings and really had stars in my eyes. You know how close I was with Shawn Tompkins, and it’s nice to have that feeling again with my coach. And since I’ve been back training, I’m kind of back to old school style of training.”
Even though he’s only 30 years old, Stout has had a long career, and the benefit of looking back on the things he has done to help shape the kind of fighter he’s still to become.
“There was a point in my career where I let myself get too out of shape in between camps.,” Sam says. “I have this .500 career in the UFC with nine wins and nine losses, and if I could go back and tell the younger version of myself anything, I would tell him to not to have so much fun. I think I could have taken things a little more seriously. I would be better off in the rankings right now and better off financially, but I’m happy with the way things turned out. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t have any huge regrets.”
New coach and old feelings aside, there’s an even more personal reason that has motivated Stout to climb out of his funk, and get back to the fighter the fans have come to know and love.
“I had a baby girl, she’s almost nine months old,” the first-time father says. “It sounds really cliché but it’s a whole new outlook on things. I’m doing this for her now. It’s not for me to go buy toys or to go traveling anymore, I’m doing this for her now, for clothes, food, college. I’m a father now and it’s really opened my eyes. It motivates the hell out of me. Right from the second she opened her eyes I was in love.”