RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 13: (L-R) Opponents Thiago Tavares and Sam Stout face off after weighing in during the UFC 142 Weigh In at HSBC Arena on January 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Sam Stout is ranked #20 according to the USA Today/SB Nation Consensus rankings. Tavares was himself not lagging too far behind at one point. Both are relatively young fighters who despite showing promise as exciting lightweights, have sort of stumbled on and off. While both fighters are 2-1 in their last three, they're not experiencing so much success that this isn't a must-win.
How do these two stack up?
Tavares: 27 years old | 5'7
Stout: 27 years old | 5'9
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Tavares used to be a blue chip prospect right alongside Tyson Griffin: their battle at UFC 76 garnered them FOTN that event, and both appeared to be on Goldberg's patented (and tortured) "meteoric rise". Time hasn't been kind to either fighter. Tavares finally began to open up his striking with more experience, but it also revealed his limitations and his propensity to get caught (Pellegrino, Roller, and Wiman all caught him pretty good at certain times).
Stout, meanwhile, earned himself some credibility with wins over Joe Lauzon and Matt Wiman only to stumble against guys like Rich Clementi and Jeremy Stephens (and, I'd argue, Paul Taylor). Both guys need to make an impression of their careers are to move forward in a way that won't signal the potential for a pink slip a year down the road. Especially as LW continues to find new and exciting prospects.
For Stout, the key will be in keeping it on the feet. He's never had big power, despite the fantastic and brutal Yves Edwards KO, but the chance of a knockout is greater against Tavares, who has been put down on multiple occasions and not always against power punchers.
Why should you care?
Because both fighters are nothing if not exciting. Take your pick: Tavares vs. Wiman, Griffin, Pellegrino, or Stout vs. Fisher, Edwards, etc. All have been involved in some great fights. There's no reason to think they won't set a frenetic pace.
For more SB Nation/Bloody Elbow coverage, hit the jump...