A cursory search of the Internet for Alan Jouban will deliver some relatively surprising results, those not usually associated with a fighter.
Jouban, 31, will make his UFC debut on Saturday in Bangor, Maine, when he meets Seth Baczynski in a three-round welterweight bout that will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
But long before Jouban, who is 9-2 and has won eight of his last nine bouts, ever thought of mixed martial arts, he was walking the runways as a model.
One of the first results that will come up in a search for Jouban's name is the website, MostBeautifulMan.com. It refers to Jouban as "one of the foremost male models in Los Angeles," and notes he's done advertising campaigns for such well known companies as Abercrombie & Fitch, Pepsi, Toyota and T-Mobile, among others.
Jouban was an athlete all of his life. He played soccer for 18 years and has been dreaming of fighting in the UFC, he says, for nearly nine years.
"Honestly, pretty much every day for the last eight, maybe nine years, I've thought about making it to the UFC and walking into the Octagon and looking around and seeing the crowd and all of that," Jouban said.
But Jouban is just moving to the big time now, and he said that so far, "fighting just doesn't pay the bills." He still makes most of his income by modeling, whether by walking down a runway or in commercials.
It's such an ingrained part of the family that his 2-year-old son already has his own agent and is modeling.
It's tougher work than many think, he said, and isn't all fun.
"You can't compare fighting to being in show business or even acting itself, but I just heard an interview that [UFC middleweight] Cung Le did, where he was comparing fight training for a movie to fight training for a real fight," Jouban said. "He was saying that fight training for a movie is harder. What he was getting at, and what I agree with, is that you train for a fight for six to eight weeks, you fight on a given night and you're done.
"For the movies, you train for six to eight weeks to get into shape for the fight scenes. Then you shoot for months and months and you're on the set for 13-hour days. That's the difference. Obviously, it doesn't compare to going into the cage and going to battle, but being on the set is not as easy as most people think."
Jouban knows he wasn't given an easy mark for his pro debut. Baczynski has 30 pro fights, nine of which have been in the UFC. He's vastly more experienced than Jouban and has fought against a much higher level of opposition.
Baczynski has a win over Matt Brown and his last fight was a loss to former No. 1 welterweight contender Thiago Alves.
But Jouban, who trains at the famed Black House Gym in Los Angeles, where former UFC champions Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida train, set his sights high for his debut.
"I was flattered with it somewhat when I heard they wanted me to fight Seth," Jouban said. "Every UFC fighter, no matter who it is, is going to be good or else he wouldn't be at this level, but Seth has proven himself to be a tough guy and he's hung around a long time. I think I'm one of the guys who fights to the level of my competition and so I am optimistic about the way things will go for me.
"I was honored to take the fight with him. One of the things my manager and I were talking about was that we wanted a guy with a good reputation and someone who had accomplished a lot so we could make a good first impression."
He's got a chance to see Silva's first steps on the road to recovery and his fight next year with Nick Diaz.
Silva, he said, is taking things slowly and not rushing.
"Anderson looks like a fighter who is taking baby steps right now," Jouban said. "A lot of people followed him during his recovery and he showed some pretty big steps pretty quickly after his surgery [following the broken leg he suffered in a fight with Chris Weidman]. Since he's been back in the gym, he's been taking it slow.
"He's been sparring, but he hasn't been going to battle. He's drilling a lot and working to get that muscle memory back and get his body firing on all cylinders as he heals."
Jouban said training with fighters the caliber of Silva and Machida has benefitted him greatly.
Not only does he get to learn from them, he sees up close how they handle, and overcome, the inevitable adversity they face.
"Anderson is obviously a massive star, but when you're there and you see him day to day, it lets you know he's human," Jouban said. "We look at guys at that level as heroes, as if they're invincible, and we put them on a pedestal. But then you get in the gym with him and you see him train and drilling and trying to get better. You see the repetitions and you see him training to learn the new techniques and how he overcomes his not-so-great days.
"He's truly incredible, but he also is a guy who pays a tremendous amount of attention to detail and is willing to put the time in required to be great. It's a privilege to see that, and it's like a blueprint for me in terms of what I want to do if I want to have a good career [in the UFC]."
But if something goes wrong in that career, Jouban is comforted to know there are few, if any, guys in the UFC who can hang with him in his other gig.
They're a lot of things, but the overwhelming majority of his peers in the fight business aren't ever going to find themselves on MostBeautifulMan.com.
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- Seth Baczynski