When UFC on Fuel TV 3 rolls around on May 15 in Fairfax, Va., rising bantamweight Yves Jabouin (17-7) is hoping to use his first main card appearance for the promotion as a chance to establish himself as a top contender in the division.
A talented athlete with great striking, Jabouin first made his mark with Zuffa as a featherweight in the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion. Although he went 1-2 in the WEC, Jabouin acquitted himself well even in defeat, losing a close decision to Raphael Assuncao and getting stopped via TKO in a memorable back-and-forth slugfest against Mark Hominick.
As a result, Jabouin earned a spot with the UFC after it dissolved its sister promotion. Unfortunately, Jabouin was submitted at UFC 129 by Pablo Garza courtesy of a flying triangle.
Yves had felt somewhat undersized as a featherweight, and the usual size difference was exacerbated the 6’1” Garza’s height and reach.
“My past match ups, there was always a little bit of a size advantage towards my opponent,” Jabouin told ProMMAnow.com. “So after discussing it with my coaches, we decided it would be best to me to drop down to bantamweight to fight guys more my size and reach.”
Cutting weight is never fun and Jabouin is no exception to that rule. But his move to bantamweight has paid off so far with victories over Ian Loveland and Walel Watson.
Perhaps most importantly, Jabouin went the distance in both fights to show that the weight cut hasn’t affected his cardio.
“Going the distance both times, I was able to comfortably do all three rounds,” Jabouin said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I think 135 is a good weight class for me.”
Up next for Jabouin is Jeff Hougland (10-4), a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt that showed a well-rounded game to defeat Donny Walker at UFC 132 in his promotional debut. Given Jabouin’s skills on the feet, he’s expecting Hougland to eventually try and get the fight to the mat.
“I think he might want to take the fight to the ground,” Jabouin said. “He’s a very technical fighter, has good counterstriking, but I think my striking is on another level than his. He’s most dangerous on the ground, but I’m not very worried about that.”
Jabouin’s confidence in his ground game comes from the slew of tough training partners he has at the highly-touted Tristar Gym in Monteal. Besides the likes of UFC welterweight champion and lightweight talent John Makdessi, Jabouin also has the luxury of sparring with two UFC fighters in his own weight division — Miguel Torres and Ivan Menjivar.
“Each and every guy that you’re going to be training with is at a level that you’re going to have to improve yourself just to exchange with them,” he said. “It makes the preparation that much better.
“All of my partners are UFC fighters, whether it’s Ivan Menjivar or Miguel Torres. You always have that little bit of butterflies as if you’re going into the actual fight.”
Training each day with two submission specialists such as Menjivar and Torres, Jabouin feels he can handle Hougland’s ground attack.
“I definitely think I have training partners who are much more dangerous with their Jiu Jitsu,” Jabouin said. “But he’s a very technical fighter, so I’ll have to be on point in every aspect.”
Jabouin and Houghland have competed in MMA professionally for a little over a decade. However, including his WEC experience, the UFC on Fuel bout will be Jabouin’s seventh in the octagon, versus only two appearances for Hougland.
“Experience is one of the most important aspect when it comes to professional fighting,” Jabouin said. “I’ve been under pressure. I’ve gone the distance. I’ve been in practically every situation in the game. That does pose an advantage.”
For the first time in his UFC career, Jabouin will also get the chance to compete on the main card, and he’s looking to take full advantage of that opportunity and move to 3-0 at 135 pounds.
“I think this is a fight that will bring me up into the rankings,” he said. “It’s going to be my first main card event for the UFC, so I’m really excited and just can’t wait to go in there.”
Yves asked to thank following: Headrush, Hayabusa, Adrenaline Tattoos, Full FX, Tristar Gym, and FightHouse MMA Management