Charles Jourdain will square off against Kron Gracie on Sunday in the featherweight division of the UFC 288 main card event at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The Canadian has lost two consecutive fights and will look to get back to winning ways against the Brazilian-American Gracie, who comes from the same Gracie family which pioneered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and gave a whole new dimension to the combat sport.
Jourdain, 27, is considered an unpredictable opponent with a well-rounded skill set which might come into the fore against the Brazilian. Gracie, on the other hand, is a specialised grappler who has won all of his MMA fights via submissions.
It will be intriguing to watch if Jourdain can use his experience to overcome his opponent in a sport that tends to favour dynamic combatants over fighters with one-dimensional skills.
Speaking exclusively to Sportstar, Jourdain, spoke about his Saturday night octagon clash and analysed the match-up.
Q. Coming from Canada, being in combat sports. Tell us how did you end up making a career in fight sports? What hooked you in choosing MMA?
Georges St-Pierre was very famous back in our day, and the only time I had an interaction with the UFC was when Anthony Pettis did the kick on the cage with Benson Henderson at WEC. That’s the first thing I saw.
I was fairly young and saw guys fighting out, which I thought was illegal, but it was cool. Then my father started taking me and my younger brother, who is a professional fighter as well to fights.
We decided to roll ourselves into a gym, and we never did it to be in the UFC to be champion. We just wanted to move around. We were very intense kids with a lot of energy. We went to the gym and fell in love with it.
CHARLES JOURDAIN PROFILE
Q. You will be facing the Brazilian-American Kron Gracie, who is about seven years older than you and making his return in the octagon after four years. What do you feel about this bout, and what are your initial thoughts about the match-up?
I am excited. I was going to fight Cub (Swanson) at some point. But after he left, I was meant to fight Kron instead, but then he decided to go into semi-retirement.
It was something that was meant to happen back when I defeated ‘The Korean Super Boy’ (Choi Doo-ho) in Asia. It was something that had to happen.
And I see these men occasionally and know I’m going fight them one day, and here we are in this not-so-beautiful New Jersey, but we’re here to fight. So beautiful things can wait.
Q. You have a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and your Saturday night opponent is the master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is a big-time grappler and loves to fight with core strength. How do you view your opponent stylistically?
It’s simple. It’s to keep him away. I don’t want to get entangled in his strength, even though I would accept the Jiu-Jitsu match with him tomorrow. But because we need to be smart, and be good tacticians. You need to fight where your opponent is weak, and I feel his weakness lies and his striking ability. And this is where my strength is. So this is the art of war.
Q. Gracie has won all five of his MMA fights via submission. Are you worried about how good he is when it comes to grappling and fighting low?
I’m not worried, but I do acknowledge it. If you’re worried, you’re emotional, which causes you to lose control. So I’ll be in charge of the space between us, as well as the rhythm.
I know he likes to follow you and try to get ahead of you, which is not a good thing to do with me because I have excellent judgement. I can employ grappling, punching, boxing, kicks, and clinch in my bouts.
KRON GRACIE PROFILE
There are so many factors that I may employ that it’s difficult to prepare for someone like me since they say I’m a somewhat unpredictable fighter.
Q. Kron Gracie has fought in over 40 professional grappling competitions, but as far as Mixed Martial Arts are concerned, he has only competed in six fights and only two in UFC. Do you think you’ll have an edge over him as far as experience is concerned?
Yes, there are all these elements that I could perceive as a vulnerability in him, but I believe he’ll be dangerous even if he’s coming off a layoff, even if he’s considered one-dimensional.
However, competent grapplers, such as Charles Olivera, do not care about going wild with striking because they do not care about being taken down, making them extremely dangerous.
We need to be cautious since he might be a sneaky man at any time. Everyone is so focused on his ground ability and willingness to sprawl that they forget he can hit you in the face. He takes you down when you’re not worried about him taking you down. It will be a very curious fight.
Q. 2022 was a mixed year for you professionally. 1 out of 3 wins, and you are coming from back-to-back losses in the octagon, how difficult or easy it is for you to come over any setback psychologically? Also, how do you evaluate yourself after every fight? Do you have any specific parameters to judge your performance or something else?
I am both my harshest critic and my worst judge. I certainly ask a lot of myself, but I don’t overload myself with these expectations. It’s all noise when it comes to the stress of being on a two-fight losing streak.
The UFC has just re-signed me. I’m putting up a good fight. I’m working hard to make enough money to return to Quebec and have barbecues with my friends. That very much sums up my objectives.
So the rest, the need to ensure that people remember my legacy, and so on, are meaningless to me. I believe we will all be forgotten one day. I’m there to put on a show and live in the present.
The best I can do is fight as hard as I can. I prepared myself the best, and whatever happens, happens. This is called destiny, and I have faith in it.
*Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC 288 - Sterling vs Cejudo on Sony Sports Ten 2 & Sony Sports Ten 2 HD channels at 7:30 am IST on 7th May 2023
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