The model by day, fighter by night angle may have been done to death when it comes to UFC welterweight Alan Jouban, but the 32-year-old doesn’t mind talking about his occasional side gig. As long as his wife is okay with him being your wife or girlfriend’s favorite new fighter, it’s all good in the Jouban residence.
“I've been doing some modeling for ten years, it was something I just fell into, and when we met I was already doing that, so she was kind of used to me being out there and doing shoots with women and being in the limelight sometimes,” he said. “But she's pretty comfortable with it, and all in all, we've realized that we can't fight this thing and say ‘I don't want to be the model guy, I don't want to be known as that.’ All this attention is just better for me and better for my career.”
Yet while some folks initially bought a ticket on the Jouban bandwagon strictly because of his looks, that bandwagon filled up on the night of August 16, when he debuted in the UFC with a first round knockout of Seth Baczynski that earned him Fight of the Night honors. If we’re talking compliments here, let’s just say that Jouban doesn’t fight like a model.
“I have this bad tendency of going into this comeback Rocky mode, as my coaches call it,” he said. “They're trying to steer me away from it.”
That’s not likely to happen, considering that Jouban is one of those fighters who kicks it into another gear the moment he gets punched in the face. Then it’s on, and the fans are the beneficiaries of this warrior mentality. Jouban hasn’t done too badly with that philosophy either, as he’s won ten of 12 bouts, including three straight. His only loss since 2011 was via five-round decision against current UFC prospect Mike “Biggie” Rhodes, so he’s been on a hot streak for a while.
But nothing compared to the fight against Baczynski, which went just as well as a UFC debut can go.
“Getting into the Octagon, I kept telling myself 'be prepared for the UFC jitters,' but I dreamed of that night so many times that it kind of felt familiar,” the Lafayette, Louisiana native said. “To get the comeback win, the knockout, the Fight of the Night bonus, and sit in at the press conference and be interviewed on FOX afterwards, all those things that me and my manager talked about as being the best possible conclusion, to get all that, it was a dream come true and it couldn't have gone any better.”
There are those that say being in Fight of the Night-type battles will shorten an athlete’s career, and Jouban agrees to an extent – for other fighters, not him, as he believes being exciting will keep him employed for a long time.
“Although I'm a fan of getting a ten-second knockout and walking away unscathed, it's all about longevity and getting paid in this sport, and I've got that old-school fighter in my blood and Fight of the Night is so much more rewarding.”
It’s hard to argue with that, and the UFC brass seems to agree, as the loss of the Ian McCall-John Lineker co-main event in Uberlandia tonight due to a McCall illness has pushed Jouban’s bout with TUF Brazil 3 winner Warlley Alves into that high-profile slot. It’s a deserved position, as it’s a clash between two exciting prospects at an early moment in their UFC careers. Boxing, for the most part, stopped matching up highly-touted up and comers with each other years ago. That’s not the case in the UFC, and fights like this should be seen by the masses.
“We're both up and coming guys,” Jouban said. “I say up and coming, but I've got 12 pro fights, which is a decent amount as an MMA fighter. He's got seven (pre-TUF) fights, so he's still growing, but he did win The Ultimate Fighter, which he gained a bunch of experience from. As far as age though, I'm close to 33 and he's 23, so there's a big age gap even though we're both three or four years into our pro career. With that said, I see him as a young, hungry lion. He's a dangerous guy and that's what I see when I look at him. I don't see him as the sharpest striker or the best Jiu-Jitsu guy out there, but I think he's a dangerous guy because the things he does do, he does very well. Being out of his danger zone is the most important thing and the key to victory with this guy. Staying away from his strong suits is the way to beat him.”
It’s a good game plan for any fight, but to take care of the rest of the details, Jouban, who now makes his home in Los Angeles, gets plenty of top-notch work with the renowned Blackhouse team. Of course, that’s the home to the likes of Brazilian heroes Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, so does Jouban hope that the raucous fans in Uberlandia give him a break as a Brazilian by association?
“I wish they would, but I don't think so,” he laughs. “From what my wrestling coach Kenny Johnson tells me, it doesn't matter who you're affiliated with or even if you're their favorite fighter. If you're not Brazilian or speak Portuguese, you're gonna get booed.”
That’s okay though, if Jouban has his way, by the end of the night, the Brazilians will be the next ones to pack the “Brahma” bandwagon.
“It (the Baczynski fight) is a tough one to go one-up on, but that's the goal - to one-up it,” he said. “The goal (the first time) was to make a big splash, and I made a big splash. I want to take him (Alves) out, and I want to win over the Brazilian fans. As much as that last fight put me on the map, I want this fight to put me on the map even more.”