Known as "Hands of Stone," Sam Stout (Pictures) goes to battle in Hollywood, Fla., tonight in a rematch of his March 2006 split decision victory over Spencer Fisher (Pictures).
Hailing from London, Ontario, Canada, Stout hopes to finally silence critics that claim he received a gift in his victory in Las Vegas.
Stout, 23, was originally set to meet Kenny Florian (Pictures), but two days before the event Florian was forced to pull out with a bad back. Fisher, 20 pounds overweight and drinking a coke when he got the call, was brought in to play the role of late replacement.
After three tight and exciting rounds, Stout took a split decision nod, yet many suggested that Fisher, now 31, would have won had he trained properly.
Fisher didn't mess around in the first four minutes, dropping power shot after power shot on the game Stout, who remained in the pocket and threw as many as he ate.
After dropping the opening round, Stout came back nicely in round two. Combinations were finished with kicks and he adeptly defended Fisher's attempts at leg submissions.
By the start of the third, Fisher was clearly fatigued and Stout began to take it to him. So tired was the North Carolinian that three times in the span of a minute his mouthpiece hit the floor. But the short respites were hardly sufficient to allow him to recover the sort of energy he needed to unleash the dangerous strikes that won him the opening stanza.
Since that time, both Stout and Fisher have remained busy.
Stout (11-2-1) has three fights: a submission loss to Florian, followed by two victories over guys considered to be stronger on the ground, Jay Estrada (Pictures) and Fabio Holanda (Pictures). In submitting Estrada via armbar, Stout avenged one of his only two losses in MMA.
Fisher (19-3-0) won two of three as well, with one loss to Hermes Franca (Pictures) and wins over Matt Wiman (Pictures) and also Dan Lauzon (Pictures).
Stout knows that this fight is an important one for him, telling Sherdog.com, "Every fight you have to perform well. People only remember your last fight. This is a big chance for me to redeem myself to the UFC fans, and it's great to be able to do it as a main event on a SpikeTV card in front of millions of people watching at home."
When told that in the year since they last fought, Fisher is bound to have improved, Stout retorted, "Yeah, I expect a bit of a different Spencer Fisher (Pictures), but he should be expecting a different Sam Stout (Pictures)."
Stout was referring to his developing jiu-jitsu and wrestling -- skills that he's been able to hone with his newfound training partners.
A longtime member of Team Tompkins, for this training camp Stout made the trek south to Las Vegas, where he joined his trainer Shawn Tompkins (Pictures) at UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture (Pictures)'s gym, Extreme Couture.
"Tompkins is my best friend, like a brother to me," said Stout. "I've known all along that he's going to do the things he's starting to do now, and it's nice to see that the rest of the world is finally giving him the recognition that he deserves."
Besides having access to Tompkins, Stout has also had the benefit of a whole new group of training partners, specifically guys at his weight class who have tested him on the floor, such as Tyson Griffin (Pictures), Joe Stevenson (Pictures), and Gray Maynard (Pictures).
Stout claimed that this experience has done him a world of good in preparing for Fisher.
"They've pushed me to a point that I don't think Spencer is going to be able to push me in this fight."
Although he's much more comfortable on the ground than ever before, Stout still knows how he wants this fight to go.
"I'm still primarily a striker," said Stout, an underdog coming into the lightweight tilt. "And I plan on going in there and banging and making the fight exciting for the fans. I still think that's the most exciting way to fight, and that's how I plan to approach this fight."