When John Albert steps into the Octagon tonight against Ivan Menjivar as the first fight on the main card at UFC on Fuel 1, it will be the culmination of a road paved with successes, adversity, and even a few injuries along the way.
Seattle-area native Albert was a 6-1 veteran of the Pacific Northwest fight scene when he fought his way into the Ultimate Fighter Season 14 house. After losing a close decision to eventual winner John Dodson in the quarterfinals, underdog Albert entered the finale against Dustin Pague where he silenced his critics by winning in under 90 seconds.
In an interview with Fighters.com, Albert recalled how the Dodson fight helped him prepare for adversity as well as spoke out on a few other subjects.
“For those who saw the show, I was pretty tentative.” Albert admitted in the conversation. “It must have been nerves or something. I knew who Dodson was beforehand, and I might have psyched myself out. I might’ve been a bit too cautious, and then it went to a decision, and I thought (and he thought) it would have gone a third round. But I lost the fight, and it is what it is.”
“It helped me grow as a fighter, and what I needed to do,” Albert continued. “I did that with Pague. I knew not to be tentative, and I knew just to leave it all on the line and give it 100% effort, and that’s what I did. The fight lasted 60 seconds because of it.”
The Dennis Hallman-trained Albert, who got his start in MMA almost by accident (he helped a friend prepare for an amateur fight which led him to attending Victory Athletics and start training) is one of the Pacific Northwest region’s up and coming wrestling prodigies. In Menjivar, he faces a thirty-fight veteran who has touched gloves with some of MMA’s elite, including Georges St. Pierre and Urijah Faber. Albert looks at this fight as a huge opportunity.
“It’s probably the biggest opportunity they can give me right now, outside of a Top 10 contender, realistically. He’s 2 and 0 in the UFC with over 30 pro fights, and has fought and won against some of the who’s who (of MMA).”
Albert enthusiastically elaborated, “This is a win/win situation for me if I put on a great show and win. Nothing bad can really come out of this. People should expect an explosive fight. I’m going to be smart and come at Ivan whenever I can.”
Originally the last fight of the prelim card, Albert received good news last Thursday in that the fight had been moved to the main card, and he couldn’t be happier.
“Man, you’d think it would make someone more nervous, but it gave me more fuel,” Albert revealed. ” You know, cutting weight’s hard, and your energy level gets low, but since (I found out,) it’s just skyrocketed. I feel like I could go run a marathon. Like I couldn’t believe they wanted to put me on the main card, and it’s just such an opportunity to for people to see me. I mean, Facebook’s a big stream, and plenty of people can watch me there, but to be on a national network, it’s just amazing. Such a great opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Albert was so excited that he took to his Twitter account (@UFCPrinceAlbert) to give his complimentary tickets away to fans wishing to come see him, which didn’t quite go to plan.
“I told people they had to private message me, but I didn’t realize that if I didn’t follow you, you couldn’t do it,” Albert recalled with a laugh. “I’m still new to Twitter, so I goofed a bit there. I do try to follow up everybody that follows me, but I wasn’t getting to it quick enough. I’ll do it better next time. Sorry guys!”
On Monday afternoon, two of the takers had backed out unable to attend, and Albert quickly held a Twitter trivia contest to gift the tickets to lucky fans again.
Make sure to catch Albert-Menjivar when the main card fires up tonight at 8:00 PM EST. The event will be broadcast Live on Fuel TV in the United States and Internationally. In Canada, Rogers Sportsnet East and Ontario will air it live, while the other network channels will air on tape delay. Check your local listings for event showtimes.
Fans without Facebook access or simply wanting to brush up on some great fights can also watch Sanchez in some of his most-memorable scraps on Spike TV starting at 7:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC