It wasn’t his most exciting or most dominant win — but for Sam Stout, it was one of his most important victories.
His win Saturday on the UFC 121 undercard extended his life in the UFC and, he hopes, put him in line for what may be a mega-UFC card when the sport comes to Ontario.
Stout earned a split decision over Paul Taylor in a battle of lightweights.
One judge gave Stout all three rounds, but the other two split. It was the fourth split decision in his UFC career. The win gave Stout a 16-6-1 fight record, 5-5 in the UFC.
Stout needed the win. The UFC has an itchy trigger finger and quickly disposes of anyone who hasn’t won recently. Nothing personal. Just business.
Despite his record, Stout has always given the UFC faithful their money’s worth and in his 10 UFC fights, he’s earned bonuses for fight-of-the-night five times.
His rousing standup slugfests may be entertaining but they will take a toll on the 26-year-old body eventually.
“It’s a big win definitely,” Stout said from Anaheim. “I would haven’t had to reassess my whole future if I had lost but it might have been the end of my career in the UFC. I’ve been in that spot before where I was walking a think line between staying there and getting cut and sent to the minors for a bit.”
A loss would likely have meant Stout would have had to work his way back to the UFC.
“It’s a tough business that way,” he said. “It’s where the most elite fighters in the world are and if you want to stay there, you have to show why you are there.”
Stout said he felt the added pressure.
“I wasn’t worried that I’d never fight in the UFC again,” he said. “I think they like me over there and I always put on a good fight which I think they appreciate. But at the same time my win-loss record wasn’t great. No matter how many fight-of-the-nights you get, there’s only so many times you can lose.”
Stout says this fight wasn’t the same as his other bouts. He was happy with how he performed and he thought he had it won easily but when he went back to watch it, he realized how close it was.
“He never hurt me,” Stout said. “It was a lot closer than I thought. It was a typical stand-up war only this time, instead of getting into one of these brawls when I take a bunch of abuse and give a bunch. I tried to play it a little smarter and a little more technical. I picked my shots a little more. I didn’t take as many shots so while it may not have been as exciting as my other fights, it was more technical than some of the other brawls I got into.”
It’s how he hopes to fight in the future. Most UFC fighters reach their prime as they approach 30. Stout is still a few more years away from that plateau and he wants to get there in relatively good health.
“There was a point when I was 21, 22, 23 and fighting in the UFC, I’d go through one of these wars, I look like I was hit by a truck but someone would tap me on the back and tell me what a great fight it was and I’d feel good about it,” Stout said. “I’m getting too old to be putting myself through this kind of punishment. It hasn’t had any affect at this point but at some point I’m going to. I don’t want to end up 30 years old and punchy. I’d rather have a long career and still be able to remember my name at the end of it.”
Stout should be back in London on Tuesday. He’ll take some time off before resuming his training at his Adrenaline Training Centre and wait for Team Tompkins head honcho and trainer Shawn Tompkins to call him about his next bout.
“He’ll give me a couple of names and we’ll discuss what the best fight is to take,” Stout said. “It depends on how anxious they are to get you back in the ring. There’s one coming up in Ontario at some point. They might save me for that.”
Knowing full well that when Stout fights in Ontario, he’s going to put on one hell of a show.