Jeff Hougland: I saved myself through fighting
Jeff Hougland thanks people for every small compliment, he speaks well of other fighters, and he’s happy to talk about his family and his town of Enumclaw, Wash.
But Hougland’s nickname, “Hellbound,” isn’t just some affectation or shoutout to AC/DC.
“I grew up in church, but I was always the black sheep,” Hougland said. “I was always doing the wrong stuff. So everybody used to tell me, ‘Oh, you’re going to hell.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine with that.'”
“I liked fighting. I was always little. I would fight everybody that wanted to fight. I got beat up a lot, but I learned it didn’t hurt that bad.”
A couple of months in jail after an altercation gone awry gave him time to think.
“I had a wife and daughter, and I wanted to be around for them,” Hougland said. “I figured, ‘well, I’ll learn how to fight. If things don’t go well, at least I’ll be able to defend myself in prison.'”
So he strutted into a kickboxing gym and was duly humbled by a few beatings from the more established fighters.
“What happened was I just fell in love with it,” Hougland said. “I liked training and liked the lifestyle. I spent less and less time with my friends in the street and more and more time in the gym. After a while, I had nothing in common with my friends anymore. They wanted to drink and smoke and party, and I wanted to go to bed at 9 so I could train twice a day. I thought, ‘Wow, my only friends now are guys in the gym.'”
“I wouldn’t trade it — I love coaching and teaching,” said Hougland who now runs his own gym, in Enumclaw. “I plan on doing that long after I’m done fighting.”
“I’ll beat somebody and work my way up into the rankings and into that title picture,” Hougland said. “If not, I’ll get beat up, and they’ll send me home. I’m 33 years old, I’m here to get it done now.”
Jeff Hougland is stepping in for an injured Mike Easton vs. Montreal bantamweight Yves Jabouin on the UFC on Fuel TV 3 card on Tuesday, live from Fairfax, Va.