Alan Jouban finds himself in an unfamiliar situation heading into UFC on FOX 28 this Saturday. In fact, he’s never been in this position: he’s entering his fight with Ben Saunders on a two-fight losing streak.
Jouban hasn’t so much as bothered to envision the scenario, but admitted that there’s always the possibility the UFC cuts him if he loses. He’s entering his 11th fight with the promotion and has three ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses to his name. Half of his UFC wins have come via first round knockout. But not many fighters can lose three in a row in the UFC and survive the pink-slip process.
“I feel like I can’t even imagine losing,” Jouban told MMASucka. “I’m not even saying, ‘What if I lose?’ But if it happens, there’s always the potential for me to be cut.”
Another consequence of losing two in a row is that the matchmakers don’t tend to push those athletes too hard. Jouban found that out the hard way when he said he felt he was on the “back-burner.”
Jouban last fought in August when he lost via first round TKO to Niko Price. It will have been over half a year since that fight by the time he steps into the cage with Saunders. In fact, when the UFC offered Jouban the fight, he was reluctant to take it because of the opponent.
“I didn’t want the fight being that we’re guys that are friendly,” he said of Saunders. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Ben. He’s a true martial artist and he’s kept that way about him. I respect that. Once the UFC didn’t want to give in, we said ‘F*ck it man, let’s do it.’”
Jouban has been able to get excited for the fight once the bout agreement was set in stone, however. He and Saunders have trained together under Eddie Bravo, and “Brahma” likes the all-southpaw match-up. Not to mention, he knows it has the potential to be exciting.
“We’re both guys that push the action, push the pace,” he said. “We get into those FOTN performances.”
But Jouban isn’t looking for a Fight of the Night bonus here. He has a different set of goals in mind.
“My goal is to finish Ben, get that bonus and have a beer with him afterward,” Jouban said. “I don’t plan to get into a war and take damage. I plan to have the best performance of my career.”
Jouban is more motivated than ever after consecutive losses to Price and Gunnar Nelson, saying the two back-to-back losses threw him for a loop.
“It took me time to recover from that, mentally,” he admitted.
But snapping his losing streak may not even be his biggest motivator. Family is. Jouban said he’s bringing his wife and five-year-old son to the fight.
“This is the first time my son is seeing me fight,” he explained. “It’s me and my wife’s anniversary the night of the fight, too. Some people might be thinking that’s pressure. It gives me extra motivation that I won’t lose in front of my son and on the night of my anniversary. I’m going for broke in this fight.”
Why did Jouban decide that this was the fight to bring his son to?
“He comes to fights every weekend when I’m cornering guys, but I thought it was too soon with the UFC,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how I felt about him seeing me win or lose. After these last two fights, I came home and had to tell him that I lost. He didn’t even understand it. Now he’s old enough to understand that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. [UFC on FOX 28] is right next to Disney World, which we’ll go to right after. Me and my son have a deep strong bond. He looks up to me a lot. If him being there gives me that extra fire under my ass, then I want him there.”
The 36-year-old welterweight feels a win over Saunders puts him right back in line to fight a top-15 guy. He had a three-fight winning streak over Brendan O’Reilly, Belal Muhammad and Mike Perry before losing his bid against a top-10. He wants another crack as soon as possible.
As for who he’s eyeing next, No. 14-ranked Dong Hyun Kim would be an interesting fight if Jouban emerges victorious. And with his family there to support him, Jouban would have you believe those odds have been boosted dramatically.
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