Spencer "The King" Fisher (24-8) is an old school Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS) product with 32 total fights and a decade of reputable MMA experience. Presently, exactly one-half of Fisher's career has transpired under the bright lights of the Octagon, where he rattled off memorable finishes such as the vicious knockouts of Matt Wiman and Dan Lauzon and the triangle choke on welterweight standout Thiago Alves.
Fisher is highly respected among the hardcore following for his all-business, workmanlike attitude and consistent display of rugged gameness. Now 36-years-old, Fisher is starting to exhibit signs of the inevitable decline that all top-level veterans eventually encounter. Fisher opened up with a strong 8-3 drive, falling short only to Stout (in a short-notice bout) and future champion Frankie Edgar by decision and absorbing a home-run overhand from Hermes Franca for a rare TKO loss. In his last 5, however, Fisher has dropped 4 -- though only positional pounders Joe Stevenson and Thiago Tavares were able to stop him.
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Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout (15-6) is another A-list lightweight who's been floating around the top of the division for some time, but unable to piece together a sequence definitive enough for a title shot or #1 contender bout. In fact, Stout has yet to mount 3 consecutive wins in the Octagon. The Canadian began as a pure kickboxer under the tutelage of the late and great Shawn Tompkins and has incrementally rounded out his arsenal with noticeable defensive improvements in the realm of wrestling, clinching and grappling, all of which are designed to keep him upright and complement his striking.
Stout isn't your typical kickboxing specialist: speed-wise, he's a little slow with his movement and delivery, his footwork and angles are predictable and, defensively, his iron-shod chin has been more of a savior than his head movement and blocking. He's also been heavily criticized for a lack of KO power, as 8 of his 9 TKO wins have come outside of the UFC, with a perfectly planted hook on Yves Edward's jaw at UFC 131 standing as the exception. It's worth mentioning that Stout is coming off consecutive 2-1 streaks and both losses (Stephens, Tavares) were respectable and competitive; I dare say there's a case for Stout winning each.
Continued in the full entry.
Upon review of the first pair of battles between Fisher and Stout, the factors of their grand finale seem to be the spring in Fisher's step, the pop in his punches and his ability to threaten with clinching and takedowns to keep Stout guessing.
Fisher's cage motion was much more active and effective, his timing with counter punches was fantastic and he made Stout hesitant to plant and commit to his combinations by springing into contact range for double legs or clinch entanglements. Additionally, Fisher's performance was a beautiful example of MMA-adapted Muay Thai. As the duo repeatedly collided to trade 3-4 punch combinations, Fisher would occasionally lead with an uppercut elbow or horizontal elbow, both of which blasted clean through Stout's guard, and integrate low roundhouse and front snap kicks to complement his boxing.
Overall, Fisher's success in the rematch was attributed to:
- Quickness -- which was lacking in their first meeting and allowed him to beat Stout to the punch and land a higher volume of significant blows
- Diversity and Unpredictability -- Fisher gave Stout different looks each time by including elbows, a range of kicks and takedowns/clinching
- Footwork and Angles -- Stout circled into Fisher's power while Fisher changed up his lateral motion constantly, kept his head moving in different patterns and generally won the front-foot chess match of a southpaw vs. traditionally-stanced fighter
My aforementioned knock on Stout's defense, head movement and footwork were actualized in his loss to Fisher: he curiously continued to circle into the power-hand of Fisher, a southpaw, and did so with his head in the same position. This allowed Fisher to anticipate Stout's counter-angle and tee off on his head with endless right hook/left cross medleys, often doubling and tripling up the combination in rapid succession.
The concern with Fisher replicating this routine is the way he seems to have slowed down: with footwork, hand speed, exploding laterally with counters and forward with punches and takedown attempts. Stout might not be the quickest kickboxer, but he's still a crisp marksman with uncanny timing, accuracy and overall technique. Stout has also continued to excel and improve and is still fairly young at age 28.
Their last two fights were fan-friendly wars and we can only hope for another. My observations on Fisher's potential decline in explosiveness is highly subjective and he did spend time training under Freddie Roach recently. This match up is basically a coin-toss, though the betting lines have Stout as a shockingly hefty favorite in the -300 range. While that line seems out of sorts, Stout gets my vote for landing the cleaner combos over each 5-minute span.
My Prediction: Sam Stout by decision.