UFC 236: Alan Jouban finally healthy heading into Dwight Grant fight
ATLANTA – Alan Jouban had never gone an entire calendar year in his career without fighting at least twice. But in came 2018 and, with it, a neck injury that forced him out of a scheduled bout and into a 14-month layoff.
Speaking to MMA Junkie ahead of his return, which will take place at UFC 236 on Saturday, Jouban explained that it was actually a number of different injuries that kept him sidelined. Other than the surgery on his neck, he also cleaned up his elbow and had some healing up to do on the foot he’d broken during a victorious UFC on FOX 28 meeting with Ben Saunders in February 2018.
Surgeries, as we know, can be a scary thought – especially for those who rely on their bodies for a living. But Jouban counted on one valuable tool to stay confident throughout his process.
“I did a lot of research,” Jouban said during Thursday’s UFC 236 media day ahead of his main card welterweight bout with Dwight Grant. “I talked to the UFC doctors, obviously, and then I spoke to a number of fighters who had had similar issues and similar injuries. And I was pleased to find out a lot of these guys had a lot worse injuries than I did, but came very strong and still have a great career now. And they’re still competing to this day, a lot of guys in the UFC.
“Once I heard that, that it wasn’t something that had never been done before, I’m not going to be somebody testing new waters, that people are having this injury and this sport still going on, I felt very confident. So I sought out one of the better doctors in L.A., had it done.”
Jouban says he’s actually been healed up for a while, but wanted to put in a good three-month camp. That’s not something he usually likes, as a longer camp also means there’s more of a chance he can aggravate an injury, but Jouban says his approach worked as a confidence builder.
“It proved to me that I went through hard sparring, I went through hard wrestling,” Jouban said. “I trained smart, but I was able to grind it out. I feel stronger than ever. I got my body working the way that it did before – probably even better, now that I’m cleaned up. So I’m excited, man. It proved to me that I’m ready to rock ’n roll.”
Saturday’s matchup is probably not the one Jouban (16-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) expected, considering Grant (9-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) hadn’t even made his UFC debut by the time Jouban’s layoff began. And Jouban admits he didn’t know much about his foe before saying yes to the offer.
But “Brahma,” who’s not usually one to be picky about competition, had two main concerns for this one: location and time. After a few international outings, he wanted to fight in U.S. soil. And, between the time that went into his recovery and camp and an upcoming movie project, he had basically a two-week window.
Jouban was ready to fight anyone who could meet these conditions, but things ended up working out quite nicely.
“I was thinking, ‘OK, maybe we won’t be anywhere near the pay-per-view, who knows, I’ve been off, he’s kind of a newer guy,’” Jouban said. “They threw us into a pay-per-view. I think they knew what they were doing. You get two guys that are ready to stand in there and bang.
“He’s coming off a big knockout, he’s got knockout power. The UFC knows what I bring to the octagon. Anything can happen, but I think they know this fight should deliver to everyone.”
Jouban isn’t putting pressure of himself, but he does see a big opportunity. He’s on a pay-per-view main card, against an opponent that Jouban believes he can finish in “spectacular fashion.”
And though Jouban does believe that the layoff halted the momentum he’d started building with the knockout win over Saunders, he also sees a golden opportunity to re-claim it.
“Coming here Saturday night, do what I do best, finish this fight, it puts me right back to where I want to be,” Jouban said. “Then I can take care of my business outside of the octagon. And then I’d like to lobby for a main event.
“… After this fight, I’d like to go sit at the bar, with (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby, I’m sure I’ll find him there. And talk main event. Steal a little bit of Darren Till’s swagger, talk to him at the bar and see what we can come up with.”
To hear more from Jouban, check out the full interview above.