There's a delicate thread keeping the two worlds of Alan Jouban from colliding into and collapsing in on each other. Headgear. The bigger, the thicker, the more Saturday Night Live, the better.
“I look like RoboCop when I spar,” Jouban said.
That's not the way to win style points in the gym. What a relief, then, that he has plenty to spare from his other occupation. It’s pretty common for up-and-coming fighters to take side jobs to pay the bills, but it's less common for that job to be modeling. Like, modeling modeling.
And there’s the easiest lede a writer could ever want. Mild-mannered man lives highly counterintuitive double life: In the real world, he makes a living with his face. But to live in the world of his dreams, he must put that living in jeopardy every day.
So far, though, all the plates are still spinning. And Jouban (7-1), a top welterweight prospect with the Resurrection Fighting Alliance promotion, will try to take another step toward the hallowed ground of full-time fighting when he faces fellow prospect Mike “Biggie” Rhodes (5-1) Friday at RFA 10 for the promotion’s inaugural welterweight title.
“I’m a Louisiana boy at heart. I’m the farthest thing from a Hollywood guy,” Jouban said in an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report. “I’m just a struggling fighter trying to make a life for my family.”
To further intertwine these bedfellows, it was modeling that first led Jouban to MMA. While in Louisiana, Jouban was randomly discovered by a talent scout, and soon enough found himself living and working in New York. One thing led to another, and he relocated to Los Angeles. It was there that he found a gym offering Muay Thai classes, and it was there that he was first exposed to cage fighting.
Jouban’s modeling clients include household brands like Nike, Pepsi and Oakley. Not a bad way to earn a buck, but that path gets murkier in direct proportion to the uptick of his prospects in combat sports.
“When I started fighting regularly, it wasn’t just bruised shins anymore,” Jouban said. “I had stitches on my face. I have to tell agencies when I have a fight coming up. They are totally conflicting careers.”
Hence the headgear. Go ahead and call him a name if you will; it’s probably a pretty good way to get yourself laid out. Jouban is not ashamed of his day job, but he is quick to point out that fighting is his true calling.
That’s why a year away from the sport, brought on partially by injuries Jouban sustained in training, weighed heavily on him. But he returned with a vengeance in May, scoring a first-round TKO. In his next fight, he debuted for RFA with a knockout of Chris Spang. Jouban now has six victories in a row, with all but one coming at the ends of his heavy fists.
He expects more of the same against Rhodes, a product of the Roufusport camp and an unabashed striker himself.
“Muay Thai is my background,” Jouban said. “I’m pretty good at jiu-jitsu, too, but I’m most comfortable when the fight is standing.”
A win over Rhodes at RFA 10 this Saturday would be a big hurdle cleared. But it’s a bit personal for Jouban, too, as Rhodes called out the winner between Jouban and Spang just days before the two were set to fight. Recalling the incident, genuine irritation is palpable in Jouban’s voice.
“It kind of pissed me off,” Jouban said. “Rhodes started calling us out, and we’re a week away from our fight. Don’t try to steal the limelight. We’re talking about our next opponent, and he’s trying to butt in.”
Jouban eyes the UFC, but the belt is the first goal. He professes a desire to make himself attractive to the UFC while not downplaying his current home with RFA. It is the attitude of—dare it be said—a model employee.
“I don’t want to be the guy who gets on the mic and says ‘Yo, Dana!’ I want them to want me,” Jouban said. “I want to be irresistible to them, so they say ‘We’ve gotta have this guy.’ That’s all I want.”
The Beaten Path is an article series profiling top MMA prospects. Read the previous interview here. Scott Harris is a writer for Bleacher Report. Find him on Twitter @ScottHarrisMMA. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.