The last time the UFC touched down in Canada, a Vancouver crowd watched a clean sweep by all of the Canadians on the card. While that was in 2023, the UFC now brings the Octagon to Toronto, where another lineup of hometown fighters look to emulate that same success in the first numbered event of 2024.
One of the most prominent Canadians to grace the octagon this Saturday is Quebec’s Charles Jourdain. Nicknamed “Air,” Jourdain has proven himself a natural highlight maker, finishing four of his six victories in the UFC.
Across from him stands Sean Woodson, a 6 ft 2 boxing ace who is both a Golden Gloves champion and an upcoming mixed martial artist. His UFC record stands at 4-1-1.
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Charles Jourdain has the backing of the oddsmakers at -210.
Charles Jourdain is a southpaw fighter who likes to stand in a Muay Thai-style stance. He keeps a tall posture and utilizes good blocking and a tight guard. Although he does maintain very sharp basics, especially his peeps, body kicks, and boxing, he is known for flashy maneuvers such as jumping and spinning attacks. In recent fights, he has consistently shown his developments as a dangerous submission threat as well, especially his ability to stay on and chain his way to successful front chokes, primarily his guillotine.
Sean Woodson is a Golden Gloves champion boxer, and his primary skill set is the octagon. He has built a system combining his long boxing, stance switches and low calf kicks, which make him an especially difficult fighter to wait and counter on. He will pick apart his opponents from the outside and reset, offering a different look so that they cannot get a read when he is leading. He has also shown incredibly efficient takedown defense in the octagon.
The key to victory for Jourdain is to be a faster and more active fighter. Jourdain has never been a particularly big featherweight, and against Woodson, everyone gives up reach and height. Jourdain cannot wait and picked apart from Woodson’s range, so he has to be the one pressing into the pocket. He can do this by chopping away at Woodson’s legs with his own calf kicks, as well as walking his punches through. Jourdain does a good job of cross stepping his shots forward to set up his high kicks.
Although Woodson is a decorated boxer, Jourdain does have the advantage in hand speed. When they exchange Jourdain should look to land in flurries, expecting to land first and last, and making the most of the opportunities when he does get inside.
Finally, he has to take Woodson down in the center of the octagon. One of the biggest technical advantages that Jourdain has is his jiu-jitsu. Woodson does a good job of using his height to create a wide base on the fence when he sprawls, and also using his height to bare down and threaten chokes on the cage.
He has, however, been takedown down with reactive level changes when he over-extends on his punches in open space. Whether Jourdain wants to keep the fight on the mat or not, showing Woodson that he can and banking those points on the scorecard is important.
For Woodson, he needs to stick and move. Like Jourdain, Woodson also needs to be the more active fighter to win, constantly peppering Jourdain with long punches and chipping away at the legs will make it difficult for Jourdain to build any sort of feinting system of his own to get inside. If he finds himself entangled with Jourdain, it’s important he finds his way cage side, as he can utilize the fence to build his way to his feet and maintain height.
One of the issues that Jourdain could run into is he will take risks looking for submissions, finding himself on the bottom in the process and married to the submission attempt giving up control time. The danger of Jourdain finding the space to roll or scramble to a neck is eventuated if he is given room, so if Woodson is taken down, he should take any opportunities to get up or get to the fence as quickly as possible.
This is a very fun matchup between two very compelling strikers. Although Jourdain is a more Muay Thai heavy fighter, I do think a lot of the body and headlocks that he likes are muted against someone with such great distance management as Woodson.
Both men will likely depend a lot on their boxing and low kicks and fight for octagon control. I believe that whoever can press forward more and maintain the higher activity is at a much higher advantage, simply because it’s beneficial for both men to lead the fight when distance is such a deciding factor.
Both of them have impressive submission stoppages on their resume, especially by front choke, but the transitionary and technical jiu-jitsu of Jourdain in terms of rolling and scrambling have me leaning toward him if it hits the mat. Woodson typically locks onto chokes when his opponents fail takedowns or make bad decisions, but Jourdain is a step above those he has already fought.
Pick: Charles Jourdain to win – bet now at MyBookie