Alan Jouban won’t say if there were tears of joy shed by his cornermen after his December win over Mike Perry, but the welterweight up-and-comer admits with a laugh that there were some relieved exhales in the locker room after the popular brawler finally stuck to the pre-fight game plan.
“They told me, ‘You saw what happens when you stick to the game plan. You can fight at the potential that we’ve always known that you’ve had,’” said Jouban, who took the emotion out of a fight that was shaping up to be a fiery culmination to a heated pre-fight rivalry. “It was a sense of relief because (Perry) made the fight week so unappealing. He was always talking trash and being very arrogant. But we knew that I was capable of this the whole time. It was just good to see it done.”
Jouban was better than good in Sacramento. Always known as a fighter with the technique to get the job done, Jouban just usually needed to receive one punch to the face to make him throw technique out the window and start throwing hammers. More often than not it worked for the Louisiana native, whose first seven UFC bouts resulted in five wins, three knockouts and three Fight of the Night bonuses.
On UFC Unfiltered: Alan on his striking and keeping fights at distance
More of the same was expected against Perry, who is not just a master of getting opponents riled up, but of having the power to put them to sleep once they make the mistake of getting emotional or over aggressive. But against the odds, Jouban stayed cool, locking up the clear unanimous decision win. So what was the secret? Maybe blame FS1 host and analyst Karyn Bryant.
“I do a podcast now with Karyn Bryant,” Jouban explains. “I’ve been doing it for over a year now and we break down the fights of the weekend every Monday. So the analyst side of me has really grown over the last year and a half where I have to not only watch fights as a fan, as a student and as a competitor, but I watch it from an analytical point of view. I know people are going to ask me these questions and I know I’m doing this podcast, so I have to tell people what went wrong and what should have been done. So now I approach a lot of fights that way. And going into my last fight, more than any other fight of my career, I approached it from that point of view.”
And it worked like a charm.
“If the only shot Mike Perry has is getting in my head and making me brawl with him, why would I give the advantage to him?” he said. “Why would I give him those percentages? So I trained myself to stay away from that. The only shot he had was to lure me into a brawl to have that one punch knockout after I got lazy for a split second.”
Jouban admits that while he heard some boos during the bout as he used a stick and move strategy to perfection, he also heard cheers that night and got plenty of kudos for his performance, one that earned him his third consecutive win and put him on a verge of a Top 15 ranking at 170 pounds should he defeat Gunnar Nelson in London on Saturday.
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“I’ve always been used to those barnburner Fight of the Night fights where I don’t hold back and I always go for it,” he said. “So to have a fight that had some slow parts, I was on the fence about it. But then when I saw the reaction from not only my coaches, but on social media. They usually describe me as a technical brawler, or ‘This guy’s got crazy heart’ or ‘You can never count this guy out.’ But then for this fight I started seeing and hearing from the commentary, from my peers and from the fans that I outclassed the guy, that I was so technical and always two steps ahead of him and that I was in a chess match and he was playing checkers. It was a new feeling for me to be the technical fighter and not the brawler. But it was very encouraging. It was a great feeling.”
So what’s the next puzzle for “Brahma” to put together? Try the opposite of Perry in Nelson, an ultra-calm competitor that can lull an opponent to sleep before striking and leaving that opponent on the losing end of a submission. But it’s a puzzle Jouban is looking forward to solving.
“I need to lead the dance in some way,” he said of fighting the Iceland native. “That doesn’t necessarily mean pushing forward aggressively. But he has a way of fighting in his rhythm and making his opponent dance to that. I need to not do it. He also alters his stances to begin a blitz – either a striking blitz or a strike to a takedown. My plan is to not let him get those. I never want to let him get set. But as different as these guys are, it’s a lot of the same fight for me, but for different reasons.”
It’s also similar in that a win moves Jouban ever closer to his goal of fighting for and winning a world championship. And when that day comes, it will be fights like these that will have served as the education for the 35-year-old.
“This is my 20th professional fight and I’ve pretty much fought all different styles, and that’s led me to this point,” he said. “I look at the long-term picture, and when you get to that title shot or the top two or three, you’re fighting the best in the world so you’ve got to be well-rounded. I’ve got to put a feather in my cap every time I fight these guys and add that experience and confidence.”