By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans. Today I will sit down with a warrior in the cage. Rising MMA fighter Alec Hooben. Alec recently fought at Maverick MMA 1 on April 7 and chalked up a remarkable comeback to finish his opponent in the first round via TKO. Let’s have a seat with Alec and get to know him a little bit better.
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
Alec: Being a fighter is what I enjoy doing and it keeps me motivated to get up every day and chase my dreams.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
Alec: I became interested in MMA when I was in high school, but I didn’t really know where to start. I joined my school wrestling team as a freshman and around that tie I was 17. I found a place that offered BJJ and boxing a few times a week. At 18 I found an actual MMA gym and my fight career began.
Nick: What belts do you have and in what disciplines?
Alec: I have a blue belt in BJJ but that is not an accurate ranking for my grappling. In order to rank up I would have to train in a gi and I have absolutely no interest in doing that. I don’t train to get any rankings in martial arts. I train to be an effective fighter.
Nick: It’s always cool to interview a fellow New Jersian. I know it has been hard for you to get pro fights lately in the area. Will you be traveling out to continue your professional career?
Alec: Yes that is the plan. There aren’t any 205 pound fighters out here and recently the few names that have been thrown at me have turned me down. I keep getting offered middleweight fights and I just don’t want to go down yet. Fighting outside of my area opens up a lot more potential opponents for me.
Nick: How long have you been with AMA Fight Club?
Alec: I started my career with them in fall of 2011. Around 2014 the fight team fell apart and everyone went off to different gyms. All my old training partners from there would offer to have me come by and train where they were. I currently train about 5 different places throughout the week.
Nick: With your fighting style do do you prefer to keep the fight on your feet or take it to the ground?
Alec: When I started my best area was sanding up. I always train to be well rounded so eventually my ground game caught up and began to exceed my striking. Now I am working with a new striking coach to help me get my stand up to be as good or better than my ground game.
Nick: What’s your favorite submission to use in any fight?
Alec: Leg locks are definitely my highest percentage submission. I have tapped out black belts with leg locks and they are the most damaging of all submissions.
Nick: With cutting weight and fighter safety always being a priority. What methods of cutting weight do you use? How much weight do you usually have to cut before a fight? Do you feel the weight cut has a major impact on your strength before a fight?
Alec: To make 205 I don’t have to cut any weight. I really just dont drink water that day and eat lightly until weigh in. I have fought at 195 twice and I needed to do the salt bath to get down there. Fighting at 195 I did feel it had a negative impact on me not. I felt it not only on fight night but the weeks leading up to the fight. I will not go down to middleweight until I start making real money in the cage.
Nick: With an amateur record of 3-1 what made you move to the professional level so quick?
Alec: The New Jersey and Pennsylvania rules for amateurs say that you can not hit someone on the ground, can not head kick, use elbows, etc. Plus I want to get paid to fight. When I had the minimum 3 wins I went pro.
Nick: What are your ultimate career goals in the fight game?
Alec: I do not want to stay in the local fight scene forever. My goal would be to fight for either Bellator or the UFC. UFC is where the best in the world fight and Bellator right there with them.
Nick: With the USADA tightening up on fighters with pre fight testing and several suspension being handed out, how do you feel about fighters getting banned for non controlled substances?
Alec: Good fuck them. Keep testing and getting them out of this sport.
Nick: You understand that marketing is important in this sport. Do you plan to ever have your own brand?
Alec: Yes I definitely need to start working on that. Now that am with TAC management they will definitely be helping me out with that.
Nick: April 7 at Maverick MMA 1 you faced Mike Wade. Very early in the first round you got caught with a shot which rattled you. You then recovered and won the fight via TKO (punches) 58 seconds into the round. What was going through your mind after getting caught that made you recover and win the way that you did?
Alec: First punch of the fight he dropped me with a powerful overhand right. That is the same way my last loss happened where the first punch put me down. The difference is I was still mentally there. Last time the fight had already been stopped before I knew what happened. This time I was able to assess the situation and hear my coach giving me instructions. I just took it one step at a time. I controlled his posture and kept him from being able to land more punches on me. Next I threatened with a submission which caused him to back off. From there I stood up and struck my way into a clinch and did my thing. I have spent so much time in the gym in all these areas that it was second nature for me. In training I’ll lightly touch my training partner with a knee and won’t actually make contact with an elbow. In an actual fight I obviously let them go. Once I kneed him to the body I knew I had him. Then I kneed him in the head and he dropped.
Nick: What was it like knowing that UFC rising star Mickey Gall was in the building cheering for you?
Alec: Mickey has been a great friend and training partner over the years. He told me the week before he was going to be there. There was actually a lot of my old training partners and friends in attendance that night. There were so many thought running through my mind that I can’t really say that it was on my mind going in. It was definitely nice to have everyone there to be able to watch me get the win. I had been to Sherman Theater once before in the past. It was to watch one of Mickey’s amateur fights, and now he is here watching one of my professional fights.
Nick: Since you have made this journey what advice can you give to new fighters wanting to make this a career?
Alec: The main thing I would say is to surround yourself with the best people to get you where you need to be, and show the fuck up! Treat it like it is your job whether you are making a living from it or not. If you want it to be your profession training needs to be the top priority. That is what I attribute my success to so far. I train with the best people in New Jersey year round 5-6 times a week.
Nick: Do you have any plans coming up in the fight game?
Alec: The plan is to just get back in the cage and stay active.
Nick: Alec have you submitted to the takeover?
Alec: This is Alec Hooben and I have submitted to the takeover.
Well I enjoyed talking with Alec. I hope for our sake and his that more fights come his way because it is entertaining to watch him in the cage. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA