Lessons Learned in Ivan Menjivar Loss Invaluable for John Albert

By Brian Knapp Jun 1, 2012
John Albert was perhaps a moment or two away from notching the most significant victory of his professional mixed martial arts career.

The 25-year-old Victory Athletics representative had Ivan Menjivar, one of the sport’s most respected bantamweights, on the ropes in the first round of their matchup at UFC on Fuel TV 1 in February. In his haste to finish, Albert left an opening. Menjivar turned the tide, wound up in top position and ultimately sealed the deal with a rear-naked choke. The experience proved valuable for Albert.

“I learned I can compete with the best in the world,” he told Sherdog.com. “I learned I still have a lot to improve on as a mixed martial artist, but I always feel like I have so much to improve on. No one is perfect. No one is unbeatable. I strive to just always improve. If I wasn’t always able to better myself, I think the sport could get boring for me.”

The next step in Albert’s development comes at “The Ultimate Fighter 15” Finale on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. There, he will face Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Erik Perez in a preliminary bout at 135 pounds. Perez will enter the cage on a five-fight winning streak.

“He’s a tough, complete mixed martial artist,” Albert said. “He’s durable but beatable.”

Perez, who sharpened his skills inside the Shark Fights and British Association of Mixed Martial Arts promotions, stepped in on short notice for the injured Byron Bloodworth. The switch did not alter Albert’s preparation.

“I train to be a complete mixed martial artist, not to be better than one person or to fight a certain guy’s style,” he said. “If you watch the champions in each division, they’re complete mixed martial artists, and that’s what I want to be. It doesn’t matter which opponent I fight or whether it changed a week or a day before my fight. I’m ready to fight and compete because that’s what I want to do. The worst thing that could happen would be to have no opponent.”

Albert has adopted the one-fight-at-a-time approach, so as not to place too much importance on any particular performance.

“I fight because I love everything about the sport,” Albert said. “My goal is to just do my best and give it my all. If I lose and the UFC cuts me, that’s just fate. As long as I gave it my all, I’m happy. Life isn’t about winning; it’s about doing your best. I gave my best against Menjivar, and I guess the right people were impressed.”

A quarterfinalist on Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Albert credits much of his success to longtime mentor Dennis Hallman.

“Dennis made me the fighter I am today,” he said. “He instilled not only technique but toughness and a strong mindset. He taught me that I’m always improving and can be better.”
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