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Sam Stout on retirement: ‘I clearly can’t take a punch the same way I used to’

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Upon getting knocked out a third consecutive time on Aug. 23, 31-year-old Sam Stout decided to retire from mixed martial arts last week. The longtime UFC veteran was knocked out by Frankie Perez in Saskatoon at UFC Fight Night 74 in just 54 seconds. Before then, he had been knocked out by KJ Noons and Ross Pearson.

In his 30 professional fights before the streak, Stout had never been knocked out.

In other words, the writing was on the wall for the Ontario, Canada native. And just a few days removed from hanging up the gloves, "Hands of Stone" Stout appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour — with his one-year old daughter, Logan, sitting in his lap — to talk about the decision to call it a career.

"It’s strange man, it’s so hard for me to wrap my brain around," Stout told Ariel Helwani. "But I think it was the right decision. I’m only 31 years old and a lot of people are like, ‘you’re still so young,’ but I’ve got a lot of miles on me. I’ve been doing this for half of my life. And I’ve got my daughter Logan here, and losing those last three fights by knockout. I’m not having any post-concussion symptoms, and I’m not feeling any memory loss or anything along those lines that you hear about some of these guys suffering from, but I don’t want to wait until that one shot that puts me over the edge and start having those. I’d rather not wait until it’s too late.

"I clearly can’t take a punch the same way I used to, so the decision wasn’t that hard for me."

Stout said that he has been training with the same focus and vigor as he always has in his UFC career, so that it wasn’t from a lack of preparation that he began to decline. He said that for whatever reason he just couldn’t take the punches like he used to.

"I don’t know, you’ve seen it in the past, it happened with like Chuck Liddell, who kind of went through the same thing," he said. "Some of the best fighters of all time just reach a certain age where they just can’t seem to do it anymore. It’s just wear and tear on your body, and I’ve been talking to some doctors and they say that once it happens once your body realizes, okay, I went unconscious this time and then the punishment stopped. Then it becomes your body’s way, like your body realizes that it’s a good defense mechanism against this kind of punishment.

"So maybe that’s what it is. I’m not a doctor, I can’t explain it. I just know I used to be able to walk through those punches without flinching, and now that’s three times in a row that I went down."

Stout said that he would remain in mixed martial arts, helping train fighters in the short term, but that he was looking to go back to school to be a firefighter.

He said he had it in the back of his mind that he would retire if he got knocked out in Saskatchewan.

"It wasn’t something I was really dwelling on, it wasn’t something I was spending too much time thinking about and letting it get into my head," he said. "But I had told myself…if I get knocked out by Frankie Perez, who’s a tough kid but he’s not really a stand-up guy, not known for being a knockout artist, he’s more of a submission guy — I was like, if I lose this one, that’s three in a row and I’m going to hang them up. So, by the time came back to the back room I already knew that my career was over."

Stout finished his pro fighting career with a 20-12-1 overall record, with a 9-11 record in the UFC. Some of his career highlights included defeating Joe Lauzon at UFC 108 via unanimous decision — which Stout cited as one of his favorites — as well as winning two out of three fights in his big trilogy with Spencer Fisher.

Throughout his nine-year UFC career, Stout received seven different end of the night bonuses. He said that he wished he’d held onto his money a little bit more, but unlike some fighters he did take precaution to build a little nest egg. Asked if he wished there was some kind of help from the UFC for fighters to transition out of the game, he said it’s only natural to feel that way.

"Well, of course I wish that, you know it’s a difficult path and luckily I was smart enough not to just blow through all those fight of the night checks and all that," he said. "I got hooked up with some of the right people to take care of my finances and help me out with that stuff. But, yeah it would be nice if there was a little more help. And you know, they do the UFC, the fighter summit and they talk to us all about that. But for a lot of guys that goes in one ear and out the other. I think as more guys start retiring, you’re going to see a lot of them that are in the Allen Iverson type of situation, where they’re flat broke. You’re going to see former athletes, guys that people used to look up to, working at diners, you know, barely able to make ends meet.

"But, I don’t know. It’s a hard thing to talk about, and I’m not going to complain after the fact that I didn’t make enough money, that I didn’t get this or I didn’t get that. I’m not that type of person. But yeah, it would definitely be nice if there was something for after. Because I’m 31 years old, and I kind of stopped my education and stopped what could have been, I could have been 10 years as a paramedic with a pension and benefits and medical benefits and dental benefits for my daughter here. And now I have none of those things. I don’t regret my time in the UFC at all, it’s the opposite in fact. But yeah, it would be nice if there was something to kind help you transition out."

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