SPORTS

Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout returns to the UFC with a new attitude

03/11/2015 06:04 EDT | Updated 05/11/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout steps into the cage Saturday for the 19th time since his UFC debut nine years ago. And the 30-year-old lightweight from London, Ont., says he is a new man.

New because since his last outing, a knockout loss to K.J. Noons last April, Stout became a father for the first time. He will not be living up to his nickname when it comes to picking up daughter Logan.

'It's awesome," Stout said of fatherhood.

The fighter says time away from the sport also revitalized him.

"I was kind of getting a little burned out," he acknowledged.

"I've been a pro for 11 years now. I was just having a hard time getting motivated in the gym. I was pretty miserable training."

Stout (21-10-1) takes on Ross (The Real Deal) Pearson (18-8 with one no contest) on Saturday on the undercard of UFC 185 in Dallas. Lightweight champion Anthony (Showtime) Pettis faces No. 1 contender Rafael dos Anjos in the main event at American Airlines Centre.

Stout, who has a 9-9 record since his debut at UFC 58, decided before the Noons fight 11 months ago in Quebec City that a break was needed.

The arrival of the baby some nine months ago also factored into the time off.

"I basically took six months off and didn't really set foot in the gym," said Stout. "I stayed in shape a little bit, did a tiny bit of padwork here and there, went for runs and stuff. But kind of gave my body a break, gave my mind a break."

Stout did not just lie on the couch. He took a job with one of his best friend's company, pouring concrete over the summer.

"It kind of kept me in shape without being cooped up a in gym all day. I just needed a change of pace."

The job ended with the summer.

"At that point I was starting to realize maybe fighting ain't so bad," said Stout. "Working a labour job kind of made me realize maybe I didn't have it so bad after all."

"That little time off was the best thing for me," he added. "I'm having fun training again."

He wanted to return to action sooner but the UFC was eyeing him for a proposed March show in Windsor, which didn't end up happening. The next card available was Dallas.

Stout co-owns the Adrenaline Training Centre in London but looked elsewhere for training help since he is one of the senior faces at the gym.

The 2011 death of friend, brother-in-law and coach Shawn Tompkins also left a void that was never filled.

Stout is now working with Windsor trainer Rino Belcastro, a friend and former fighter.

"It's a little bit of driving but it's worth it to have a coach I trust," he said. "We mesh really well. We're really hitting it off. So I think it's going to be the start of a new chapter for me that I think is looking pretty promising."

He also trained briefly in Milwaukee at Roufusport Mixed Martial Arts Academy, home of renowned striking coach Duke Roufus and Pettis.

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