April 13th, 2019 - that was the last time we saw Alan Jouban step into the famed octagon.
The six-year UFC veteran faced off with relative newcomer Dwight Grant, ultimately losing what he describes as a lackluster split decision. The combination of feeling like the judges got it wrong, and the uncomfortable feeling of being booed for one of the first times in his fight career, left Jouban feeling like maybe this was the end. Perhaps retirement was closer than he had realized before that bout.
“If I’m being honest, I didn’t know [if I was going to fight again]. I didn’t know because I wasn’t very happy after my last fight. I wasn’t happy with the results - the results from the judges and the results for myself,” Jouban shared. “I was upset with myself for not pushing it the way that I normally do because I thought I had an easy victory.”
But it wasn’t just the disappointment that pushed Jouban towards the end of the road. After facing loads of surgeries throughout his fighting career, he was faced with yet another trip to the operating table.
“After that I found out that my pinky was dangling off my hand and I had to have the ligaments put back on the bone,” he divulged. “So at that point, I was 37 and I’m thinking ‘crap, coming off of a loss, I got to have another surgery and I’m just getting older and it’s going to take more time.”
While the hand surgery was a success, he was then hit with another injury in training. Jouban suffered a ligament tear in his knee, the second of his career - although this one was on the opposite side of the first.
It was then that he began having discussions with his manager about his future, and he’s stayed honest and open about those discussions.
“There were those thoughts. I had that talk with my manager about if retirement is happening in the near future,” he said. “I never thought about that word until this last fight and now it’s something that I’m very open about. I know retirement is in the near future and I don’t know how many fights I have left.”
That magic number isn’t going to be something that he arbitrarily sets though. With 5-fights left on his contract, he’s unsure he’ll make it to the end of that. He’s going to let his body make that decision for him.
“As long as my body feels good and I’m performing and I’m productive, then I’m looking to get in there and grind it out and have fun,” he said. “But it’s so tough because you could feel amazing one day and then literally, you wake up the next day and you have a new pain in your body.”
The first test for his body will be this weekend’s fight against UFC newcomer Jared Gooden. Although Gooden comes in with a fair amount of hype, Jouban wasn’t too excited about the offer. That, of course, is no slight to Gooden, but rather an insight for what Jouban wants for the end of his career.
“I wasn’t super happy at first because I was asking ‘what about Carlos Condit or Matt Brown?’ because I was asking for veterans,” Jouban said. “I know I don’t have that many fights left and I want my legacy to have these types of fights in it before I’m done.”
Jouban hopes that this fight will allow him to call for one of those legacy fights, especially if he’s able to return to his previously exciting ways. You can see that bout as part of the ESPN+ prelims of this weekend’s UFC 255.