Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout was a 16-year-old skate punk when he first met his sister's new boyfriend.
"My buddies used to tease me a lot about my 'hot' sister, so when she started dating Shawn, I thought it was really cool because I didn't have to be the protector anymore," remembers Stout.
The new guy was into martial arts and could easily set straight any over-the-top teenage libidos.
"He invited me out to a smoker (underground show at a gym) and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen," says Stout. "I've been hooked on fighting ever since."
The man who introduced Stout to martial arts, Shawn Tompkins, continues to be his trainer and mentor to this day.The pair recently moved from their native London, Ont. to Vegas, where Tompkins is one of the most sought-after trainers at UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy "The Natural" Couture's gym.
Stout has also flourished in the fight world. At 23, he has four UFC scraps under his belt, with three wins and a loss.
He trains at X-Treme Couture and says he sometimes has to pinch himself when he looks at how far he's come.
"It's unbelievable when you go to one of those pro training sessions," he says.
"You're doing drills and you look to the left and there's Randy Couture training. You look to the right and there's Wanderlei Silva. It's unbelievable."
Boasting a 13-3-1 pro record, Stout is perhaps best known for his two epic battles with Spencer "King" Fisher, in which each fighter walked away with a win. Stout says he's heard rumblings of a tie-breaker match in the making.
But for now, his only focus is Rich "No Love" Clementi and their impending showdown at UFC 83 in Montreal next month.
Stout says he's been watching a lot of tape on the veteran Clementi, who has more than 40 pro fights on his record.
Stout is primarily known as a stand-up fighter who is most comfortable throwing kicks and punches.
But he adds that after studying Clementi's game, "He doesn't have anything on the ground I can't handle."
Stout says he will have the added pride and pressure of being part of a historic fight card.
"This is the first one in Canada and it's the fastest sellout and will be the largest crowd ever in North America for a mixed-martial arts event," he says. "It's history in the making and I'm proud to be a part of that. I'm going to be a proud Canadian that night."
Home-field advantage has double meaning for Stout.
With his native Ontario one of the last remaining holdouts in sanctioning MMA, he's accustomed to fighting in Quebec -- where he has never lost in 11 outings and remains the TKO lightweight champion.
Stout admits he's not doing bad for a skate punk who has aspirations of being a paramedic.
And, this July, the man who has been like a brother to Stout will officially join the family when he marries Stout's sister Emilie.