On Wednesday, Feb. 15, John “Prince” Albert will enter the Octagon looking to win his second consecutive UFC bout when he takes on fellow bantamweight Ivan Menjivar at UFC on Fuel TV 1.

Albert, who currently holds a professional record of 7-1, grew up loving the sport of mixed martial arts, but never thought a career in the sport was possible.

In a recent interview with The MMA Corner, Albert shared his journey to the premier stage of MMA.

“It’s a pretty interesting story actually. I grew up loving  marital arts and was a huge fan of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. I did a little bit of wrestling growing up and loved being competitive.  I graduated high school and started playing soccer in a premier league,” said Albert. “I wanted to continue in that, but it just didn’t work out.

“So, I went to work like everyone else did. But, one day my buddy asked for my help training for MMA. I didn’t even know that was something you could just do. I  thought it was like the NFL and that you had to be drafted into it. I didn’t really understand how you got into the sport. To make a long story shot, he took me to Dennis Hallman’s gym. I trained as much as I could and he asked me to fight. The rest is history, man.”

After getting settled in at Hallman’s gym, Albert found himself being called “Jason.”

“It’s kind of funny. For the longest time Dennis couldn’t even remember my name. For some reason or another, he called me ‘Jason.’ I’d see him and he’d call me ‘Jason.’ He asked me if I was ready to fight for the first time and I said, ‘Yes, I’m ready, but I’m not Jason.’ He asked me what my last name was and I said ‘Albert’,” the featherweight recalled with a laugh. “So, he told me that I’m ‘Prince Albert’ from now on.”

Albert (R) connects with a right hand against Dustin Pague (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Through Hallman’s intense and rigorous training, “Prince” Albert found himself living in the Ultimate Fighter house, fighting for a chance at a six-figure contract.

While Albert’s dreams of winning The Ultimate Fighter came up short, he was ultimately rewarded an opportunity to fight at the TUF 14 Finale against Dustin Pague.

Sixty-nine seconds later, Albert had captured the first win of his career via knockout by punches.

“It was a pretty surreal moment for me. In the interview, I was screaming so loud that I didn’t know if I should cry or keep yelling. It was really a make or break fight for me. I was making good money in construction so I needed to decide to train full-time or continue working,” said Albert. “But that win really gave me the comfort to train full-time.

“So, that’s what I’m doing and I love it, man. I went to work for a little after the show, but I had a really good feeling that I would get a call. I got the call, so I decided to take time away from work and train full-time.”

Albert will now take on Menjivar in hopes of climbing up the 135-pound rankings even more.

However, he will need to overcome Octagon jitters, as he’ll be squaring off with a fighter who holds much more experience.

“The real disadvantage of mine is his experience,” Albert explained. “I consider myself experienced, but he’s got 30 pro fights and my deal is that I’ve never been to a true decision. Even when Dodson and I went to a decision, it was only a two-round fight. So I know he’s been in some crazy wars.

“I’ve never been in a three-round fight, but believe I can go there because of my conditioning. I believe I’m faster than he is. He’s a power puncher, but he doesn’t throw a lot of combos. He’s good at the hard elbows and punches. I want to press the pace with a lot of movement because I know he doesn’t move a lot. His ground game is sick but so is mine. I don’t think we’ll get much accomplished on the ground.

“I see it going to the judges’ scorecards. I’ll do everything in my power to finish and I’m going to try and put him away. I’m going to stick with the game plan, so I definitely want to finish. But at the same time, he hardly ever gets finished. He’s a grinder. I don’t know if he’s seen the pressure that I’d like to bring though.”

After Albert and Menjivar finish their 135-pound clash, heavy-hitting welterweight Jake Ellenberger will enter the Octagon to take on Diego Sanchez in the main event of the evening.

Albert weighed in with how he thought the welterweight showdown would play out.

“I’ve always liked Sanchez because he’s so tough, man. He’s got this weird toughness so that it’s hard to put him away. The guy has proven himself time and time again,” said Albert. “But, when it comes down to it, Ellenberger is a beast. He’s fought a lot of tough guys and he’s just a downright powerful striker. I think it’ll be a great fight, but I’m taking Ellenberger to win.”

While Albert’s performance at UFC on Fuel TV 1 will ultimately determine his future in the UFC, he’ll always be a down-to-earth guy who finds pleasure in the simplest things in life.

When Albert isn’t training or putting his focus on an upcoming bout, he enjoys spending time with his father or alone in the woods or at the stream.

“My dad and I go on a lot of hunting trips together,” Albert said. “We love to get out in the woods and spend time hunting. I’m just a huge fan of the outdoors in general. I also like to go fishing alone in little creeks and go camping.”

“I’ll also admit that I like to play video games. I’m one of those guys,” laughed Albert. “But I’ve been pretty busy focusing on my fighting career, so I haven’t got a lot of time at those things lately.”

At the end of the day, Albert wants to be remembered as a fun-loving guy, but his goals remain the same.

“I truly want to win that belt,” Albert stated. “It’s one of the greatest accomplishments a man can ever achieve. To look back one day and say I was once the best ever would be unbelievable. Not just one of those sub-par Strikeforce champions.”

Albert  concluded by stating, “I want to stay competitive for as long as I can. I want to fight forever.”

Top Photo: John Albert celebrates his TUF 14 Finale win over Dustin Pague (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)