By: Chris Huntemann
Many people move to Los Angeles to make it big in the entertainment industry. They want to become actors, musicians or models. UFC welterweight Alan Jouban can actually boast experience as a model. But that’s not why he originally moved to the West Coast.
Jouban moved to Los Angeles from his native Louisiana around 11 years ago to make it as a mixed martial arts fighter. His introduction to MMA started the same way it did for many fighters – renting VHS tapes of the early UFC cards from his local video store.
“My favorite movies were ‘Bloodsport’ and ‘Rocky’” Jouban said. “I watched those all day; I would want to hit the bag after watching ‘Rocky’.”
Jouban joined a martial arts gym when he moved to Los Angeles and even though he had no formal training, “fighting is in my blood,” he said.
Jouban (12-4) made his MMA debut in 2011 and competed in various regional promotions before signing with Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) in 2013. Jouban went 3-1 in RFA before joining the UFC in 2014, and he’s built his MMA career a little differently from other fighters.
“I wanted to accumulate as many fights as possible,” Jouban said. “Some guys do MMA, then they compete in Brazilian jiu-jitsu or boxing. I’m 34 years old; my timeline is shorter. I wanted to focus on MMA only and get into the UFC as soon as possible.”
Jouban’s UFC debut couldn’t have gone much better. He scored a first-round knockout victory over Seth Baczynski, which netted Jouban a “Performance of the Night” bonus. While he described his overall experience in UFC as “great,” Jouban also acknowledged there’s been some “ups and downs.”
“Anything can happen,” Jouban said. “I don’t root against anyone, but you do get a little jealous when the UFC gives someone a push that you’re not getting.”
Jouban noted the losses suffered by Holly Holm and Conor McGregor at UFC 196 last weekend and while he didn’t feel good they lost, “anyone can take a loss,” he said. Jouban also swallowed a bitter pill in his second UFC fight – a decision loss to Warlley Alves.
“I felt robbed,” Jouban said. “Many people said I won and I know I beat him in the second and third round.”
But Jouban isn’t one to rest on his laurels. In preparation for his next fight against Brendan O’Reilly (6-1) in Australia on March 19, Jouban added more striking on his repertoire and said he is “always working” on his wrestling defense.
“He likes to put you against the cage grind you out, and he doesn’t want to strike with me,” Jouban said of O’Reilly. “He’s aggressive with a lot of intensity and heart, but I’m an emotional fighter too. Every fight is tough.”
Jouban is looking forward to his next fight in Australia against O’Reilly, even though if he had his druthers, he would remain stateside for his fighting career.
“I make more money at home,” Jouban said. “When you travel to another country, you just get two plane tickets, a hotel room and a per diem. I have to pay to bring my own team with me. I save about $2,000-3,000 per fight fighting at home.”
Luckily, Jouban is able to make up some of that lost income in his other career as a model. Jouban started modeling 15 years ago and was hesitant to first to acknowledge his good looks when he began his fighting career.
“I didn’t want to be known as a pretty boy,” Jouban said. “I wanted to earn respect first, then show elements of myself.”
Jouban purposely waited until his first UFC fight to address his modeling career, which he said was given a boost by fighting.
“Before I was just a guy auditioning – just a face in the crowd,” Jouban said. “It’s gratifying to know I stuck with it.”
Can Jouban find success in the Octagon again, like he’s found success on the runway? UFC fans will find out “Down Under” later this month.