Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 | 3:30 p.m.
UFC lightweight Sam Stout had drastically different plans for how he would spend this week.
Stout, a Las Vegas-based fighter, was slated to meet Dennis Siver in a bout on Saturday’s UFC 137 card before everything in his life changed on August 14. That’s when Stout returned to his home in London, Ontario, Canada to the news of the passing of Shawn Tompkins, his longtime trainer and brother-in-law.
“He was more than a coach to me, he was my brother,” Stout said. “I don’t even like to call him my brother-in-law, because he was my big brother. He taught me everything I know about fighting and was with me every step of the way. He was definitely the most influential person ever in my life.”
An autopsy revealed Tompkins’ cause of death as a heart attack in his sleep. He was 37.
Stout pulled out of the fight with Siver upon hearing the news to grieve and help his family through the difficult time. Instead of competing this weekend, Stout will host an event in Las Vegas celebrating Tompkins’ life.
It’s scheduled for 6 Friday night at the TapOut Training Center, Tompkins’ home gym where he was the head coach.
“It’s still really tough for me to think of every day,” Stout said. “It’s still a very difficult thing for me to wrap my head around. I haven’t fought without him yet. I think that’s going to be one of the most difficult things for me.”
The 27-year old Stout said his sister, Emilie, had introduced him to Tompkins when he was a teenager. Between an amateur career and 47 combined professional fights as a kickboxer and mixed martial artist, Stout has never fought without Tompkins in his corner.
Stout admitted he was nervous and unsure of how he would handle the situation without Tompkins. But he’s beginning to think about it.
Stout has spent a lot more time in the gym the past few weeks and is hoping to land a spot on UFC 141 , which is scheduled for December 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“Shawn wouldn’t have wanted me to stop moving or stand still,” Stout explained. “He worked very hard on getting me to where I am today and I don’t want to lose any of that momentum. I want to keep trying to make him proud even though he’s not here with us anymore.”
Stout has gone 4-1 since 2009, with the only loss coming via split decision to Jeremy Stephens at UFC 113, and has won two in a row. The last victory was especially emblematic of Tompkins’ impact on his career.
Stout knocked out Yves Edwards in the first round of their UFC 131 contest with a looping left hand. It was a punch Tompkins told Stout would be open. Stout explicitly remembered working on it with Tompkins during their first training session for Edwards.
“He had a rare gift to see things like that,” Stout said. “He could see holes in people’s games and knew the sport of mixed martial arts better than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Stout’s friend and Tompkins’ other prized UFC pupil, featherweight Mark Hominick, will also be at Friday’s event along with a number of other MMA personalities.
Stout said the large support system of fighters inspired by Tompkins had proved invaluable.
“Shawn touched a lot of people in a profound way,” Hominick said in a statement, “so it’s important to celebrate having been a part of his life.”