Ken Stone. That’s it. No nickname. No nonsense. And Stone is the perfect last name for a guy that’s built like a rock.
Stone, who has a background in collegiate wrestling, has been an active professional fighter for five years. He fights out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla., and has been a part of Zuffa promotions since December 2010.
“I couldn’t be this successful without American Top Team standing behind me,” Stone said in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.
Stone began his career in East Coast regional promotions with an eight-fight winning streak. His undefeated start was a perfect balance of four submission victories and four fist-driven technical knockouts, with seven of his wins coming in the first round. However, Stone is 3-3 in his last six fights, the latest four taking place on Zuffa stages.
Stone’s first fight for a Zuffa promotion, at WEC 53, ended just over two minutes into the fight with Eddie Wineland slamming him into the mat and knocking him out after Stone attempted a standing guillotine choke. The 29-year-old started the fight with aggressive striking, but the fans never really got to see much more of his game.
Stone’s next match was against a very game Scott Jorgensen, who knocked him out in the first round with one punch from top guard. Again, this was not the best display of Stone’s skills as a well-rounded fighter.
At UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger, Stone finally picked up a win in the UFC with a technical submission of Donny Walker. Then, at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida, Stone finally earned his first decision win—a win he badly needed.
“I gained the valuable experience of going all three rounds on the big stage,” explained Stone.
What does this really mean to the bantamweight from Massachusetts? He’s shown himself he can stand, he can wrestle, he can submit, and now he can go the distance. That win really rounds out an already well-rounded fighter, which builds his confidence going into the next fight.
At this point in his career, the most important thing that Stone would like to add to his repertoire is a higher frequency of fights. It’s a wish that was quickly granted with an offer to fight on Aug. 11—less than two months after his win over Dustin Pague—at UFC 150 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It was good. I took a few days off after my last fight, to heal, and got right back to work,” Stone said of the quick turnaround between fights.
Stone’s opponent at UFC 150 is Mexican fighter Erik Perez. Perez currently trains at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., and is 6-0 in his last four fights. Of his four career losses, he’s only been finished once. Most of his wins are by submission, with only two by way of knockout.
Perez’s most recent win, coming in his UFC debut, is one that has gone down in recent MMA infamy. His first-round “submission” of John Albert was not actually a submission, but for some reason the referee called it that way, and the win was upheld. So, Perez hasn’t really proven himself on the big stage yet.
On paper, Stone and Perez look quite similar. The majority of both fighters’ wins are by submission, and between the two of them, there’s only one submission loss. They combine for a handful of knockout and decision wins and losses. It appears that both fighters are similar, stylistically, and Stone agrees with that assessment.
“I think it is a great match-up. We have similar records and styles,” Stone said.
However, while both fighters like to fight on the ground, the dangers are slightly different. Stone is powerful with his wrestling and ground-and-pound skills, whereas Perez is more of a submission grappler. Stone obviously has submission skills, but his powerful wrestling sets those moves up.
Stone feels that Perez’s biggest advantage is that “he’s very well-rounded, and he has the experience of training and fighting in high altitude.”
To help adjust to the altitude in the Mile High City, Stone finished up his camp at ATT Altitude in Aurora, Colo., run by MMA fighter and pro wrestler Bobby Lashley. In addition to his workouts at the Colorado-based camp, Stone also made a trek up some mountains and rode the roller coasters in Denver. Hopefully that will help him adjust to the thinner air for Saturday night—plus, it’s a fun way to adjust.
Stone feels that his greatest strength going into the fight is his speed, which is definitely one of his biggest advantages, but his power is not to be overlooked.
What about his biggest motivator?
“I love this sport,” Stone said. “That is my motivation.”
This ideal is one thing that rings true throughout the greatest fighters. The love of MMA creates a respectful drive that is unmatched in many other sports. It is more important than anything, because this is not a team sport, and if a fighter doesn’t love what he does, his career is over. That is not the case with Stone.
While Stone loves MMA, his life outside of the sport is also quite busy. His wife, Sarah, who is a model and Ken’s nutritionist, is right by his side, and their lives are about to get much busier.
“My wife and I are expecting our first child,” Stone said. “We are very excited! I also have my own IT business and am a fan of tricking and soccer.”
The Stones are moving quickly to the next stage of their lives, and Ken hopes his MMA career excels right along side. Stone has a big future ahead, and a win over Perez will move him further up the bantamweight ladder.
Top Photo: Ken Stone (R) battles Dustin Pague (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)