After losing three straight fights in the UFC bantamweight division, you'd think John Albert would be sweating bullets.
While his recent results have not been optimal, Albert has held his own against a trio of top 10 135-pounders, pushing Ivan Menjivar, Erik Perez and Scott Jorgensen to the limit before succumbing to submissions against the top contenders.
Albert has put significant focus on trying to channel the crazy aggression from the beginning of his bouts and allow it to last for fifteen minutes. He's hoping the experience against top competition will help him as he enters a fight with his back firmly against the wall.
The Victory Athletics fighter spoke to MMAmania.com during an appearance on The Verbal Submission about gaining valuable experience, remaining composed under pressure, and his new sleeve tattoo in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It's come to my knowledge that I'm interrupting Sunday Funday with the wife to do this interview. What exactly entails your Sunday Fundays before a big fight?
John Albert: Do you really want to know what's going on? I cleaned both my bathrooms spic'n'span, I got my kitchen done and I'm in the middle of working on my front room. That's what I got going on.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is this the normal routine before a fight or is it different because this upcoming fight is so close to your home, being in Seattle and all?
John Albert: I pretty much do the same exact things. Sunday I prep everything that I'll need throughout the week so I don't really have to lift a finger. The nice thing is I can drive up to Seattle, do my paperwork and poster-signings and head back home. I stay at home the whole week and just play video games and relax. It's definitely a lot easier. It's easier on the body and on the mind. A lot of the time you get bored when you go to these places. Normally when I travel I like to see stuff but you're on the last leg of training camp and you're focusing on your weight cut and you can't really have a whole lot of fun. We do a lot of hotel staying and me and Dennis call it movie time where we go and see 2-3 shows in the theater every trip during fight week.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What video games are keeping you busy right now?
John Albert: Through the past couple weeks I finished like four or five Zelda games. Right now, me and my brother are playing Final Fantasy X. At the moment, it's one of the monotonous 70 hour games and you've got to just grind through it so it keeps my mind off of stuff.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did you play the N64 version, Ocarina of TIme, and did you make it through the water temple?
John Albert: Oh, I have them all and (laughs) of course. It seems like every Zelda game has that water level. It's the most difficult level but I've played that game so many times, I remember how to beat everything like the back of my hand at this point. (laughs)
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're finishing up your sleeve tattoo heading into this fight. I believe it's been four years in the making, so how do you feel as it draws to a close?
John Albert: Well, I've had this in my head for four years. I've been trying to find an artist and only been training full time for two years now. I was always trying to find enough money and time to pull it off. I ran into this great guy Scott and he wanted to hear a concept. I told him what I wanted and he drew it up. I've been in his chair for the past two months straight. About 2-3 times a week in between training sessions I've been getting tatted. I've been putting in four years of work in the last two months and we're not done. We still have 40 more hours to put into it. Friday was our last day of tattooing. We tried to get most of the concept done so it looks cool when we're fighting but it's nowhere near finished.
John Albert: I've always been inundated in Japanese and Chinese culture. I've always loved the East and I grew up being a fan of Bruce lee and all the martial arts and anime and all that. What the concept is, is I've always loved samurais and dragons and it's a samurai stabbing a dragon. A samurai is the ultimate warrior and a dragon presents the ultimate challenge, it's almost mystical. To take on a dragon, and defeat it, it's like me overcoming and I'm the warrior. The sun in the background is telling you there's always light at the end of the tunnel and we just threw it all together.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about the upcoming fight. Yaotzin Meza didn't have the greatest UFC debut but he took a fight on short notice above his weight class against one of the best featherweights on the planet. Are you expecting a completely different fighter than what everyone saw in the Mendes fight?
John Albert: Absolutely. People don't realize that he took on probably the number one featherweight contender in the world on short notice. Sean Shelby was telling me no one wanted to fight the dude. Everyone is so worried about their record and getting cut that they didn't want to risk it but Meza had no problem taking it on short notice within a week and a half. He's a mentally tough guy and he went against the best in the world.
I cross-trained with him a while back and I know a bit about him. Meza's a tough cat, man. People are gonna be surprised. I feel like I've got the tools in my belt to beat him but it's not gonna be as easy as people think. I keep getting all these tweets and messages from people saying I'm gonna crush him (laughs) but he's a lot tougher than that. I do feel like I've got everything handled and I can pull off the win.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've had some praise for Meza, I believe I've heard you mention his conditioning is pretty good. What were some things that stood out to you from working with him?
John Albert: Well conditioning is one. They have a high elevation over there. He worked construction and I would joke with him because he was working a jackhammer all the time and was constantly working out his arms and carrying three kids around back home. I still think I might be the bigger, stronger guy but we'll see. Most of his experience is on the regional circuit and you want to fight as often as you can and that's why he was fighting at 145 and 155. You save the tough weight cuts until you're in the top-tier level. I still think I'm better but he's really strong and relentless with great cardio.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like your last three fights, pushing top 10 fighters like Ivan Menjivar, Erik Perez and Scott Jorgensen to the limit, was great experience to help you take on a guy not ranked at their same caliber?
John Albert: It almost gives me a little confidence boost but I don't ever go in there thinking one guy is lesser than another. That's probably why I did well against everybody for a while. I don't necessarily gameplan specifically for opponents, I just go my hardest. On the feet, on the ground, I go 100 percent. No matter who you are, I'll give it my all. After competing with them and seeing how I performed, I'm learning from my mistakes, trying to slow myself down a little bit. Yeah, I have the confidence that I can compete with these guys. I believe in my ability and I feel that it'll transfer to this fight really well.
Every fight I've been in, I'm not nervous or scared of the fight but I have natural nerves, like two weeks out before the fight. I think a lot about the fight but this time I don't have those. I'm just feeling really good and loose and I'm ready to give it my all. I think that's because of all the high level competition I've been having lately so I'm excited for it.
It scared me a little bit because I usually have the butterflies, thinking about what my opponent is going to do but it hasn't happened and we're less than a week out now. Maybe that means I will stay calm in my fight and not go ballistic, blow my wad and go crazy. I'm really pumped about the way I feel about this fight right now.
You can follow John on Twitter @UFCPrinceAlbert.