Interviews

John Albert from the Pacific Northwest to the UFC

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Guest Writer: Matt Paligaru

As recent as a few years ago, the Pacific Northwest was a hidden gem in MMA.  Names like Randy Couture, Dennis Hallman, John Alessio, Denis Kang, Jens Pulver and Matt Lindland kept the region visible, however, the names were few and far between on the big stage.

Fast forward a few years. Couture has retired.  Some of the above names have settled into coaching roles, and the region is teeming with growth.  Rich with champions and championship caliber fighters, the Pacific Northwest is gaining ground on the rest of the world with an emphasis on strong wrestling, thanks in part to names like Hallman and Matt Hume.

One such up and coming wrestler is John Albert, who appeared on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter.  Growing up in a wrestling family, Albert found MMA from a friend who enlisted his help, and introduced him to Hallman’s Victory Athletics gym.  5 years, and a couple of setbacks into his career, Albert will appear on his first main card, as the opening fight of UFC on Fuel TV when he takes on 30 fight veteran Ivan Menjivar.

Albert took some time out of training to discuss the growth of the Mixed Martial Arts scene in the Pacific Northwest.

 “We have these experienced guys becoming our coaches, like Matt Hume, Ivan Salaverry and Dennis (Hallman.)” Albert told us.  We’re the up and coming fighters, and they started way before us and put (places like )Washington on the map.

“Now, they’ve brought us up into it.  When you’ve got these guys coaching us now to be as good, or better, it’s just going to continue to put us here on the map.”

Albert continued discussing some of the region’s best names to keep an eye on.

“We’ve got plenty of guys now.  We’ve got Jeff Hougland.  He’s an amazing guy who (has fought in different weight classes) and picked a good weight to be at, and he’s 1-0 in the UFC.  Demetrious Johnson, obviously representing very well being a flyweight, but fighting for the Bantamweight Championship.  I’ve been to other camps, and there’s a lot of good guys starting MMA at a young age.”

Albert paused for a moment before finishing.

“The Northwest has a lot of great wrestling backgrounds, and it translates well into MMA.  I think we’re going to explode pretty good.”

John Albert meets Ivan Menjivar in a Bantamweight tilt as the opening fight of UFC on Fuel TV’s main card.  In Canada, the fights will air live on the Rogers Sportsnet network.  Check your local listings for show times.

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Matt Paligaru is a contributing writer for Fighters.com and fiveouncesofpain.com

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Jeremy Brand started up this lovechild called MMASucka.com back in 2009. It began as a hobby project and has turned into much more. In his spare time, you can find Jeremy on the mats, as he is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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