UFC welterweight Alan Jouban looks to get back to winning ways this Saturday (August 5) when he fights Niko Price in Mexico City at UFC Fight Night 114. Jouban, 35, was riding a three-fight win-streak – with victories over Brendan O’Reilly, Belal Muhammed and Mike Perry – before a second-round submission loss to Gunnar Nelson in March put a stop to his momentum and derailed him somewhat. Now, with a crucial fight set for this weekend, he’s eager to return to winning ways.
Back in April, Jouban took some time out between training sessions to tell Fighters Only’s Tony Reid what’s on his bucket list, who inspires him and his pre-fight superstitions…
Q: Which performance are you most proud of?
Alan Jouban: I would definitely have to say my fight with Chris Spang. That win meant so much to me on so many levels and really shows you what type of fighter I am deep down inside. That was probably the first time I had to hold back tears after a win. That fight was my RFA debut and it received ‘Fight of the Night’ and ‘Fight of the Year’ honors with that promotion.
Q: If you could fight anyone in any weight class, who would you choose?
AJ: I would love to have fought BJ Penn in his prime – only because I’ve always been a fan of him and admired his style and the emotion he fights with. It would have been an honor to do battle with him.
Q: Who would you most like to pick a fight with outside the world of MMA?
AJ: I’ve got bare-knuckle Thai-boxing in Cambodia on my bucket list. They basically just wrap your hands with rope and allow you to fight. After my professional career is all said and done I could see myself being too stubborn for my own good and doing one of those for the rush.
Q: Who are the people that inspire you?
AJ: Since I began fighting I have probably studied the most footage on Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva. So I would say they’re the two guys who inspired me during this journey. But, in the movie world, if it were not for guys like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee then I might not have always dreamed of fighting since I was a child.
Q: If you weren’t a professional fighter, what would you be doing for a living?
AJ: I would still be doing some modeling and bartending, and also taking acting classes. Before I ever set foot in a gym I had the option of taking acting classes or joining a gym for a career path with the money I had. I joined the gym.
Q: Do you have any regrets about turning your back on a modeling or acting career?
AJ: No. I’m doing what I was supposed to do, I’m sure. The modeling thing was getting really hard to juggle the more I progressed as a fighter. I was showing up on jobs more and more with black eyes and cuts. I didn’t pursue the acting as much as I was supposed to because of the fighting. Fortunately, I am a much better fighter than an actor, for sure.
Q: Do you have any unusual superstitious habits?
AJ: I probably have a lot of superstitions I’m not even aware of that I do during each fight prep. One is having clean nails come fight time. I feel like it gives me strength and confidence when I have strong, clean nails. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s part of your body and you want to feel at your most confident come fight time. I always chip away at my nails the rest of the year, so come fight time, I make sure they are strong like the rest of my body.
Q: Who are your favorite fighters to watch and why?
AJ: As I said earlier, Machida and Anderson are my favorite fighters to watch. Maybe it’s the southpaw striker bias in me. I don’t like to watch anyone not willing to go for it. Leave it all in the cage whatever your style and I’ll applaud you.
Q: What’s it like being a pupil of BJJ guru Eddie Bravo?
AJ: Anyone who’s trained with Eddie knows he loves a good story, conspiracy theories and is an absolute BJJ fanatic. He begins almost every class with a 20-minute story or discussion that usually leaves you grinning. But, on a more serious note, I can remember the discussion we had when I first began jiu-jitsu with him. During the first month, I would come in once or twice a week and not get too much out of it. Then one class he pulled me aside and told me, ‘You’ve gotta fall in love with jiu-jitsu if you really want to get better. Come all the time and watch videos online. Be thinking about it. That’s how you are going to get better.’ And that’s what I finally did.
Q: What’s the most amazing thing you have seen in regards to the growth of MMA?
AJ: Seeing it on FOX and ESPN is pretty special. Every time I hear the FOX Sports music for the UFC it reminds me how far it has come. On a personal level, for a guy like me who dreamed of doing this to be able to make it here and also see my teammates doing so well kind of reaffirmed that hard work does pay off and this sport changes lives.