The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia Finale this Wednesday, April 16, headlined by former TUF Season 3 winner Michael Bisping and middleweight contender Tim Kennedy has flown under the radar for the most part.
Bisping and former Strikeforce title challenger Kennedy have traded verbal blows with one another over the years and have garnered some attention for their bout, but with UFC FOX Saturday: Werdum vs Browne this Saturday and Jon Jones’ seventh title defense at UFC 172 looming the following weekend, the rest of the card his been vastly overlooked.
This is a very unfortunate occurrence because the TUF Finale prelims on FOX Sports 1 will be headlined by veteran lightweights and fellow former professional kick boxers Sam Stout and KJ Noons, who are all but guaranteed to deliver a fight of the night caliber performance.
Last month marked the 8 year anniversary of Stout’s first bout in the UFC against Spencer Fisher at UFC 58, and since then “Hands of Stone” has only been fighting the top level of competition. In his time with the UFC, the veteran has posted a modest record of 12-8 to complement his overall professional record of 20-9-1. This may not seem like this most impressive win loss tally, but the truth of Stout’s career lies with in the post-fight bonuses. In his 20 promotional performances with the UFC Stout has earned 7 post-fight checks: 6 of which were for Fight of the Night performances, and the other for a vicious knockout of Yves Edwards at UFC 131.
Though he hasn’t always come out on top, Stout delivers exciting fights as consistently as any other combatant has in the promotion’s history. A protégé of the late great coach Shawn Tompkins, Stout has shown technical stand up to complement his 16-4 pro kickboxing record and powerful hands throughout his career.
He might not have the charisma of Chael Sonnen or the crazed aggression of Diego Sanchez, but Stout delivers memorable bouts just about every time he steps into the cage. His trilogy with Spencer “The King” Fisher is likely the most underappreciated in the UFC’s history as the pair brought the house down on three separate occasions spanning a six year period, with Stout taking the series 2-1.
Stout’s opponent at TUF Nations Finale, the former EliteXC lightweight champion Noons, is in a similar situation.
Noons, like Stout, has a deceiving pro record of 12-7. For the majority of his career Noons has only been fighting high level opponents, defeating former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz in his only eight MMA appearances.
His lack of experience compared to other veterans is also a deceiving factor when looking at Noons’ MMA record, which fails to highlight his 11-2 pro boxing record and 12-2 pro kickboxing record.
Noons is no stranger to combat and is one of the more dangerous boxers in the 155 pound division. Like is his next opponent, Noons’ style is conducive to meeting his adversary in the middle of the Octagon and swinging.
This is a bout where both men will feel they possess an advantage in the standup department, and will be looking to prove so.
Neither Noons nor Stout are known for playing it safe and taking the fight to the ground, so for fans of a technical chess match on the mat, you’re out of luck, but if you’re like the majority of warm blooded MMA fans who enjoy a war on the feet with the potential for either contestant to be put away by a lethal shot at a moment’s notice, this is the fight for you.
So if you think all Wednesday’s TUF Finale has to offer is a moderately believable colonial based feud between the famously “chatty” Brit in Bisping and former US Army Ranger Kennedy, take heed my child. For this may very well be one of the best battles of the year.