Following his loss on Season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, John Albert believed his dream of fighting in the UFC was about to go up in smoke.
Fortunately for Albert, he was wrong. Instead, he found himself celebrating his first win inside the Octagon in a 69-second knockout over Dustin Pague. Albert would fall in his very next bout to UFC veteran Ivan Menjivar despite showing signs of greatness in the opening minutes of Round 1.
Albert will now look to capture his second major win when the UFC travels to the Palms Casino Resort in Paradise, Nevada, on June 1st, where he'll meet Erik Perez in a bantamweight showdown.
Albert recently sat down with Bleacher Report to discuss his upcoming bout and a variety of different topics.
Garrett Derr: John, you're coming off a tough loss to Ivan Menjivar where you held your own the first few minutes before getting caught. Talk me through this loss. What were your feelings at the time?
John Albert: Well simply, I felt I hurt him real good and I smelled blood and went for the kill. I gave every ounce of energy I had. It wasn't enough, unfortunately. I jumped the guillotine and that is the worst mistake you can make in fighting. Giving up position when you have no energy to even finish.
I was hoping to recover on the bottom, but he unintentionally hit me in the back of the head like five times and actually knocked me out. Then he slipped in the choke and I woke up in a rear-naked choke. I didn't know which side to defend and I was going back out, so I had to tap.
I thought for a split second just to go out, but I was already out once so I was kind of like, f--- it [laughing].
GD: How hard has it been to regain that focus and turn your full attention to your upcoming opponent in Erik Perez?
JA: Not hard at all, to be honest. This is a sport and a competition and I just felt honored to fight someone that I consider almost legendary. He's a true pioneer in the sport and I had such a good time fighting him that the loss didn't affect me.
I went right back into training and focusing on what I needed to work on. I just need to improve as a fighter. I love this sport and win or lose, if I give it 100 percent, I'm happy.
GD: Talk to me about Perez. He'll be making his UFC debut and he's a guy we haven't heard of before. What do you know about him?
JA: Well, if anyone follows mixed martial arts outside the UFC, they'd know he's a very talented and tough fighter coming off a five-fight win streak. He is very durable and a good mixed martial artist. He transitions well from striking to wrestling to grappling.
But I feel he's never been stuck with anyone like me, and I feel he plays right into my ground game. I think his strong suit is his durability, though.
GD: You mention his durability, so how do you see this bout playing out?
JA: I want to get the knockout in the first round. I train for a 15-minute fight, but my fighting style is kind of all-out aggression. I don't like to pace myself. I just like to go, go, go. So, I feel it'll end in the first round either way [laughing].
GD: You were set to take on Byron Bloodworth and he was forced out due to an injury. How much have you had to change your preparations for Bloodworth to focus solely on Perez?
JA: No changes, to be honest. I train to be the most complete fighter and a true mixed martial artist. Dennis Hallman's game plan for me is to walk across the ring, take the guy down and submit him. He feels that's how strong my ground is.
But I don't follow his game plan ever [laughing]. Because I love to trade, put on a show and take the fight where I see fit. I just go out there and fight because that's when I'm having the most fun.
GD: You've taken part in The Ultimate Fighter house and got to showcase your skill set on the Season 14 Finale. What advice would you give to the guys who are just coming out of the house? What do they need to know in order to be successful in the UFC?
JA: The simplest advice I can give is to believe in yourself and don't give up on your dream. I thought after I lost, that was it. But I had this weird feeling I was going to get called by Sean Shelby and quit my job to train full-time.
In order to be successful in the UFC, you have to commit to fighting 100 percent. These guys are top-level athletes and competitors. They are just simply too good to only be able to be a part-time fighter.
GD: In the main event, Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann will square off for what many consider to be the No. 1 contender's spot. Who wins this bout and why?
JA: Honestly, this is a tough one to call. Ellenberger always goes forward and puts people away. Kampmann can endure a lot of pain, though. They both are amazing mixed martial artists and I see a split decision maybe going to Ellenberger.
GD: You train with Dennis Hallman, one of the all-time greats in the sport. What's the biggest thing he's taught you about the sport and yourself?
JA: Besides all the technique, he's taught me how to be tough. You know he is a big advocate on experience and had me fight as much as possible as an amateur. I had 15 amateur fights and we both wanted more to gain experience.
But I just was beating everyone and no one wanted to fight. It took six months to find a fight for me and towards the end, he just told me that I was ready. He also has given me confidence because he believes that I'm a world-class fighter even though sometimes I don't feel that way.
GD: We know John Albert the fighter and not much outside of that. What is your favorite thing to do outside of the Octagon when you're not training for a fight?
JA: I got a few things that I love to do after a fight. One is to go out and eat at restaurants for a week straight. I don't cook my own meals [laughing]. Besides that, I love to hunt, fish and camp with my pops.
I also love comic books and gaming. I feel that I'm quite the nerd who likes solitude [laughing]. So, guns, video games and comic books.
GD: In closing, who would you like to thank?
JA: I'd like to thank everyone who supports and believes in me. Specifically, my family and friends. My coaches, teammates, Dennis Hallman, Saohin Srisuk and Ali Crosbie. Victory athletics Fight Team and my agents at Paradigm MMA Management. My fans can follow me on Twitter at @ufcprincealbert and chat with me at athletebay.com.
Garrett Derr is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
For additional information, follow Garrett Derr on Twitter.
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