Alan Jouban explains the problems Aljamain Sterling might face at UFC 273 following his same neck surgery


When Aljamain Sterling contemplated disc-replacement surgery in his neck, the UFC bantamweight champion sought out retired veteran Alan Jouban for advice.

Prior to his retirement this past year to focus on a future in broadcasting, Jouban underwent the same surgery that Sterling eventually did, which delayed the bantamweight champ’s return to action following a disqualification win over Petr Yan at UFC 259.

Sterling previously explained his decision to deal with a lingering neck issue that caused him “constant, radiating pain.”; he ultimately chose a disc-replacement over a fusion surgery.

According to Jouban the decision between these two options comes down to stability versus mobility, which was the same choice he made once upon a while.

“I believe it’s C5, C6 disc replacement,” Jouban said on The Fighter vs. The Writer . “Those are tough things to come back from. They’re not as bad as sometimes you’ll see, these fighters like Daniel Cormier [and] other fighters that have had the back fusion, a disc in the back. They never get the mobility they once had after that fusion.

” You saw this in Daniel’s fight with Stipe. He seemed a little less in all three of them – my friend D.C. But he just didn’t seem like the same youthful guy.”

Jouban stated that neck fusion surgery can have a greater impact on the injury, and is the reason why many players with the same injury choose to undergo it over disc-replacement.

“Fighters decline getting fused because they want the mobility in the neck,” Jouban said. “They want to be able to turn, so that’s why they elect to get disc-replacement, but it’s not as strong as fusion upon impact. Football players need that impact.”

When he was coming back from that same surgery, Jouban admits it altered the way he was able to prepare for his fights, especially when it came to protecting his neck from further harm.

“I fought two fights after my neck surgery, but I tell you what, going into the first fight after my neck surgery, I had done a lot of training in the gym, I had guys choke me out, [and] I would tap out right away,” Jouban said. “I didn’t want to mess anything up. It was something I had saved for fight. But the moment I got hurt and felt my head shake, I went holy s ***,. I pray my neck is all okay.

” I’m curious if Aljamain is having reservations about it. Like, let me play safe. I’ll go back to the old “stay on the outside”, kick, kick and kick routine. Petr Yan will then make a desperate strike, which causes me to change my levels. It’s possible that we won’t see him as an exciting fighter. I am referring to the possibility of seeing a safer, smarter fighter. Because it didn’t go well the first time, and now he’s had neck surgery, whether he doesn’t want to get caught with an uppercut or something crazy much less a knee, he might play it safe and play to the outside on this one.”

Even after he chose the surgery that was necessary and ultimately better for his fight career, Jouban said it still took something away from him.

“When you get this neck surgery, you lose anywhere from 20 to 30 percent mobility,” he revealed. It will be fascinating to see what he does. But this is his first fight back from it, so we’re going to see.”

Beyond taking punches or getting caught in submissions that could potentially compromise the neck, Jouban also dealt with a change in his style of wrestling after surgery. While he was never known as the most suffocating grappler, the now 39-year-old fighter still practiced wrestling at a grueling pace in the gym.

Coming back from disc-replacement, he was forced to alter the way he looked for takedowns.

“When I got back to the gym, I had to change my wrestling, which messed things up for me,” Jouban explained. I would shoot my head into single-leg [takedown], or go through the double-leg body. For those who don’t know much about wrestling, you are taught early on that if they’re the person, then you can hit them with a double-leg head. You place your forehead inside their chest, and run through them. This is a power double, baby. They’re smashed. That was impossible for me. After the surgery, I couldn’t hit my chest or hit my head against the body. I was in danger.

“I had to change the way that I shot. I would never [go] head in the chest double-leg anybody. My single-leg would get me outside. My wrestling had to be changed. It was necessary to change my wrestling style. Aljamain is a great wrestler. It’s going to be interesting to see.”

The good news is that Sterling, who hails from New York City, has recovered in a relatively short time. His fight against Yan will take place nearly exactly one year following his operation. Judging by the photos and videos he’s posted in the days and weeks leading up to UFC 273, he is shredded and more than ready to do whatever it takes to defend his title on Saturday night.

“Aljamain seems to have recovered from it faster than usual,” Jouban stated. “I think he’s still pretty young and [has] good genetics, and so he was able to recover fast, but you make adjustments to your training. It’s like a tap when someone gets you into some kind of crank. It’s not my goal to get to sleep, or to be cranked at the gym. It’s a tap. So you’re always playing it safe in the gym.

” He has already tried it in the gym but now it is time to fight. We will see .”

what the future holds.