Two veteran lightweights will settle a five year long score this Friday night (June 22, 2012) as Sam Stout takes on Spencer Fisher for the third time in the co-main event of UFC on FX 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Stout is coming off a close decision loss at the hands of Thiago Tavares in Brazil earlier this year. Before that, he had scored the first knockout of his UFC career and was seemingly building some momentum in the division. If he can put away Fisher with style, he could (hopefully) get himself back on track.
Spencer Fisher's career is winding down. "The King" has long been one of the more entertaining lightweights on the UFC's roster during his seven year stint with the promotion, but he's now lost four of his last five fights and has not looked that impressive in the last two and a half years. He'll likely be fighting to keep his job with the promotion on Friday night.
Will Stout get Team Tompkins back in the winner's circle on Friday night? Can Fisher win the rubber match against "Hands of Stone?" What's the key to victory for both veteran lightweights in the UFC on FX 4 co-main event?
Let's find out:
Record: 17-7-1 overall, 6-6 in the UFC
How he got here: Sam Stout actually got into mixed martial arts after becoming friends with trainer (and eventual brother-in-law) Shawn Tompkins. His rise was quick, becoming a staple of the Canadian TKO promotion. He scored eight knockouts with TKO, earning the nickname "Hands of Stone" in the process.
Stout would make his UFC debut way back in 2006, scoring a close split decision victory over Spencer Fisher in the process. Stout has had a very up-and-down UFC career. Never winning or losing more than two fights in a row and always on the verge of being a top 10 or 15 talent.
Three straight "Fight of the Night" bonuses really put Stout on the map in 2010 and a follow-up "Knockout of the Night" over Yves Edwards, his first knockout in the UFC, again had him in fringe contender territory.
Unfortunately, the passing of Shawn Tompkins changed everything, forcing him to back out of his bout against Dennis Siver. Once he finally returned, he was defeated by Thiago Tavares via close decision in Brazil.
He's hoping to be the first of the Team Tompkins trio to score a win in the last year this Friday night as he faces Fisher for the third time.
How he gets it done: Stout needs to avoid letting Fisher close the distance. Fisher's biggest weapons are his ability to hurt his opponents in the clinch, via ground and pound as well as his big right hand if he can get inside during the stand-up portion.
What Stout needs to do is channel his 2011 self and utilize proper footwork to create angles. If he sees an opening, he can't hesitate. He finally got a rhythm going against Tavares this past January in the third round, nearly scoring a knockout, but it was too late. He can't afford to let an opportunity slip by this time around.
Expect to see Stout work his jab early and then try to pound Fisher with his developing power in his right hand. Fisher is getting up there in terms of Octagon wear-and-tear so Stout could hurt him more than he expects if he can find the proper location.
Record: 24-8 overall, 9-7 in the UFC
Key Wins: Jeremy Stephens (The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale), Sam Stout (UFC Fight Night 10), Matt Wiman (UFC 60)
How he got here: Spencer Fisher has long been a staple of the UFC's lightweight roster. He began his career way back in 2002, compiling a 14-1 record on the local circuit before getting an invite to the UFC.
Once at the big show, he made the most of his opportunity, stopping both Thiago Alves and Aaron Riley at a pair of Ultimate Fight Night events. He would drop down to lightweight to take on Sam Stout, losing a controversial split decision.
Three fights later, he would earn his revenge against Stout, battering "Hands of Stone" over the course of three rounds in a wild and incredibly entertaining slugfest in a "Fight of the Year" candidate. "The King's" stock had never been higher, but starting in late 2009, he began to falter.
Including a 2009 loss to Joe Stevenson, Fisher has lost four of five fights and has looked like a shell of his former self. The 36 year old will likely be fighting for his UFC career on Friday night in the trilogy fight against Stout.
How he gets it done: Fisher should try to make this fight ugly. Stout is a more technical fighter on the feet and has better footwork. If Fisher wants to win this rubber match, he needs to turn this bout into a sloppy brawl. The sloppier, the better. If he can drop his hands and wing some haymakers, perhaps Stout will oblige him.
I think Fisher still has just as much one-punch power as Stout if not more, so he could clip "Hands of Stone" on the feet. He also has a good shot at victory if he can shove Stout into the cage and work him over with elbows and short knees.
Lastly, while he's not a worldbeater on the canvas, Fisher does possess some pretty solid ground and pound and if he can dump Stout on his back at any point in time, it would be to his benefit. As long as he doesn't stay on the edge of Stout's straight punches, he's got a shot.
Fight X-Factor: There are two key X-Factors for this fight. The first, obviously, is the toll all these years of fighting has taken on Fisher's body. He didn't look good at all against Thiago Tavares last August and if that same fighter shows up, he's got no chance in hell of winning against Stout.
The other factor, obviously, is the suppose "Curse of Tompkins." Neither Chris Horodecki, Mark Hominick or Stout have won a fighter since their trainer passed away with several of them losing bad upsets. Stout seems to have taken it the hardest of all and if his head is not in the game on Friday night, he could unfortunately keep the streak alive.
Bottom Line: While it's not a fight that people are extremely looking forward to, this is actually a pretty interesting bout. Both Stout and Fisher have put on very exciting fights against each other in the past and if they can channel that 2007 energy, then this fight has some serious potential for entertainment value. Neither man is going to be a contender again, but if you just take this fight for what it is, you'll probably have a good time.
Who will come out on top at UFC on FX 4? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!