“Teachers said fighting won’t get u anywhere in life. Well it got me to the MGM in Las Vegas & now heading to Macau, China.”

This is a tweet posted by UFC bantamweight Jeff Hougland, who after fighting twice in the United States will now fly thousands of miles to Macau to compete at UFC on Fuel TV 6 against Takeya Mizugaki.

Hougland has certainly gotten somewhere in life when it comes to mixed martial arts, as he is the owner of Combat Sport and Fitness in Washington, and is looking to improve his record inside the Octagon to 2-1. Even with a lot of time on his hands, Hougland has been able to manage his schedule to put in a solid training camp for arguably the toughest test of his career in Mizugaki.

“Things have been going good. It was a pretty good camp, I gotta admit,” Hougland told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “My main sparring partners for this one were a 25er and 35er at my gym who were here a lot. I also had John Albert, another bantamweight in the UFC, who was my main sparring partner that came down a couple times a week to give me some good rounds. I feel like I can always do more, [but] I’m a busy dude. I own my own gym and do lots of stuff, but you know, I do the best I can with the time I got.”

Hougland (L) looks for a left hand (Heavy MMA)

In his last appearance inside the Octagon, “Hellbound” fell to veteran Yves Jabouin by unanimous decision, but showed a ton of heart in that fight after overcoming adversity several times. Even after the loss, Hougland found positive areas to build on coming into Saturday.

“I get that a lot from people telling me how much heart [I showed]. I would have traded all that heart for one takedown,” Hougland admitted. “I watched his videos and everything and knew he was a good striker. I’m not the best striker, but I’m also not the worst one by far. He hit hard for sure and all that, but most guys do in the division. Once I got caught with that kick to the liver, that changed my whole night. Props to him, he did his job better than me that night.

“I just need to step my game up and train with some higher level bantamweights from the UFC instead of just my guys at the gym, and that’s what I’ve done for this fight. I’ve gone out and got a lot of different looks for this one, so I should be ready.”

If it weren’t for some unfortunate events in August, Hougland and Mizugaki would have already fought. The two were scheduled to meet in the undercard of UFC 151, but after an injury to Dan Henderson, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was left without an opponent. The UFC offered Jones a fight with Chael Sonnen on short notice, but the champion turned down the fight, forcing the entire event to be canceled.

Obviously, Hougland was very discouraged after the cancellation, and he even tweeted to Jones saying, “Can I at least get one of your new Nike T-shirts? I’ll give it to my kid since I won’t have any money for her school clothes.” Hougland admits that he got caught up in the moment, but it truly did have an impact on him.

“To be honest, it was just a tweet in the heat of the moment. The day before, I just saw him post something about giving his fans these Nike shirts, and I thought it was kinda a funny thing to say. And the next day, the fight’s off,” the 34-year-old said. “I’ll be the first one to tell you, Jon Jones is one of the greatest fighters on earth right now, and he deserves all the money and all the glory he gets. But I have to make a living too, you know. I may be a nobody in the UFC, but I need that money. I put money in my training camps. It costs me money to pay trainers, take supplements, and to get guys to come in and spare, so when I don’t get to fight, it’s rough.”

Hougland also added,”If I had a day or two to think about it, I probably wouldn’t have done it, but I don’t regret it, and it is what it is. Do I like his attitude and stuff like that? No, but who cares? He’s doing him and I gotta be me.”

Hougland celebrates (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

The Seattle native quickly got over the situation and took some time off. But after a short break, Hougland was right back in the gym preparing for Mizugaki after the UFC granted their fight a spot on a different event, this time in November rather than August. Even after the move of his fight to the November show, Hougland’s training routine never changed.

“When they cancelled the fight, I just backed off for a few weeks. I’m always in the gym, but I don’t fight train as much. I’m 34 years old, I don’t need to be punched in the face by a 20-year-old guy everyday. I backed off a little bit and then got right back in doing the same things,” stated Hougland. “I feel like I’ve been training for this fight five or six months, and I’ll be happy to just get in there and get the fight over with.”

As mentioned, Hougland and Mizugaki will mix it up in Macau, China, as the UFC travels there for the first time ever. It is certainly a great opportunity for Hougland to see the country for the first time, but he has mixed emotions about traveling to the other side of the globe.

“I like being close to home. I like to leave and go back there as soon as possible, so for me, traveling that far is not my favorite thing to do,” Hougland confessed. “But being a part of the first card in China and getting to see China is kinda cool. To be honest, I probably never would have seen it if the UFC wasn’t sending me there, so I get to see the world while fighting, and I’m interested in seeing China, fighting there, and seeing what the crowd looks like. I would have been just as happy to fight in Seattle next month, but they wanna send me wherever they want me to go. They sign the checks and I just go there. I’m happy to be a part of it, but I wish I would have been on the Seattle card instead.”

At the end of the day, whether you’re in your hometown fighting or in another country, fighting in the UFC cage is still the same. “Hellbound” will have a difficult task in front of him as takes on Mizugaki, who has fought some of the best fighters in the world, but he isn’t afraid to throw out a bold prediction on how the fight is going to go.

“I think I’ll submit him in the second or third round.”

Jeff would like to thank all of the guys that came out to his gym Combat Sport and Fitness, and all the gyms that opened up to let him come down and train, as well as his sponsors Venum Fightwear, Dethrone, Training Mask, CTRL Industries, Fokai, and Watterson Excavating. Follow him on Twitter @JeffHougland

Photo: Jeff Hougland (L) connects with a kick in his UFC debut (Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.