The legendary family of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will once again have a representative in the UFC octagon when Kron Gracie makes his return after almost four years away. Kron, the son of MMA legend Rickson Gracie and nephew of the UFC’s first event champion Royce Gracie, owns an MMA record of 5-1, and 1-1 inside the UFC. Prior to his last two fights against Alex Caceres and Cub Swanson, Gracie earned his MMA experience in Rizin defeating veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri among others.
Charles “Air” Jourdain, one of Canada’s leading talents is looking to bounce back following the first back-to-back losses in his career. The Quebec native holds notable wins over Lando Vannata, Andre Ewell, and Doo Ho Choi. His aggression and affinity for acrobatic strikes have quickly made him a favorite among fight fans.
Gracie vs. Jourdain takes place this weekend at UFC 288. Watch every fight live on ESPN+ PPV this Saturday night (order now).
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Charles Jourdain is the -185 favorite over Gracie who has just two fights in the UFC.
- Kron Gracie: +144
- Charles Jourdain: -185
Although it’s no secret that Kron Gracie both wants and likely needs to drag the fight to the mat, he does have a peculiar style of striking beforehand. He is somewhat reminiscent of his friends and sometimes training partners in the Diaz brothers where he likes to walk his opponent down with punches in bunches at about 60% power. He is not particularly fast but he is constant with his boxing and lead leg kicks to the body and knee.
His last fight against Cub Swanson illustrated how a fighter with good footwork and speed can play the role of matador against this style, by moving back, circling, and countering. Swanson also enjoyed a ton of success with hooks to the body, as Kron’s decision to not take a step back often resulted in him bringing his guard very high and opening the midsection.
That being said, the benefit to Kron’s style is that over time, as fatigue sets in, he begins landing the fourth, fifth, or sixth shot in his combination, and he begins to be the one consistently landing the final blow of each exchange. The other benefit is the pressure and boxing is a good way to strike into the clinch where Kron ultimately wants to be. Gracie is not a classically trained wrestler, instead having far more success getting to the clinch and swiveling to the back or pulling guard. Regardless, expect him to try to drag Jourdain down rather than shoot on him very much.
One way in which Kron does this as well is to slip the right cross if he can bait it out with his pressure. He is very quick at slipping to the outside but close to the body to initiate a body lock from behind. He then laces one leg with a hook and then throws himself backward to the mat. It can be difficult to maintain control with a dramatic tactic like this, but Kron is very effective and quick in the execution. Kron also has a fantastic guillotine to watch out for from his days as a submission grappler.
Charles Jourdain likes to fight tall and light on his feet. Just as Gracie wants to take the fight down, Jourdain has to keep it standing up. He utilizes a high guard, a very good push kick to maintain range, and big, flashy strikes. He tends to plod in a Muay Thai stance, constantly switching from conventional to southpaw, and fights equally well from both sides. In particular, he looks for his switch step straight left. He also lands the same left cross by circling his opponent to his power side.
Jourdain does have a good grappling game himself. He has great timing on his foot sweeps and trips and decent top control. What stands out is his ability to jump on submissions once he has hurt his opponent on the feet. It would be smart of him to avoid this against Gracie though as the difference in grappling credentials is very large, and should he miss an opportunity and find himself stuck in a grappling exchange, it gives Gracie a huge opportunity he otherwise might not have had.
Prediction and Betting Guide
This is a very interesting matchup. At face value, it can look as close to a grappler vs. striker matchup as we could get in 2023. However, what is fascinating is that Kron Gracie’s ability to grapple and submit is much better early when the two fighters are dry and have not had a chance to feel each other out but his striking is very much a long-game style. The more his opponent tires and has difficulty getting out of range in exchanges is when Gracie starts to land most often.
Charles Jourdain, in many ways, is a lot like Cub Swanson and shares the same ability to utilize tricky footwork and range to frustrate Gracie. However, what does make him different is a bit more aggression in his forward pursuit and risk-taking.
Charles Jourdain has every tool needed to keep the fight standing and outstrike Gracie and if the odds were 50-50 he is the better bet. However, as wild as Jourdain is, it only takes one moment of over-excitement to find himself clinched up or on the ground, especially if Gracie has been focusing on the areas he failed during his time away. At +144 odds, Gracie is actually not a bad bet but moreso at -185 it’s a lot to ask on Jourdain to only win $100. The value pick here is the underdog.
Pick: Kron Gracie to win (+144)