It will be a quick turnaround for Nathaniel Wood when he takes on Charles “Air” Jourdain after winning his UFC return just barely a month ago. Prior to this, he was out of the octagon for nearly two years, yet had the performance of his career afterward. His victory, which came over Charles Rosa, was a lopsided decision and truly a striking clinic. He will now be heading into UFC Paris overflowing with confidence.
In a far different story, Charles Jourdain will be heading into the bout with a vengeance. On a two-fight win streak, Jourdain seemed as though he was finally coming into his own as he faced off with Shane Burgos just a week prior to Wood’s fight with Rosa. In a back-and-forth battle that saw Jourdain come on strong towards the end, fans were split on who they thought won.
Jourdain, believing he had done enough, was disappointed when Burgos’ hand was raised, the potential victory would have been a massive step up in his career. To right the wrong, he returns less than two months later and will be chomping at the bit to get a win over Wood.
Oddsmakers are backing the Canadian in this one. It will cost $144 to win $100 on him should he win.
Charles Jourdain is an exceptional talent in the division. He fights tall and light on his feet with a rather traditional Thai approach, yet his flashy kicks call from taekwondo at times. He has a high guard and moves in large movements, constantly switching stances and throwing from many different angles. He has a great leaping left hook and a switch step straight left, as well as a very fast head kick from either side. We constantly see him circling out and away to his left so that his opponent is drawn into his left straight, doubling the impact.
The ways in which Nathaniel Wood matches up with Jourdain are fascinating. He is likewise a striker, although more so a boxer who added kicks to his game, rather than a Muay Thai kickboxer. While Jourdain tends to have a tough first round or first few minutes before settling in, Wood is very quick to find his timing. He is an orthodox fighter who utilizes his reach well with long punches, calf kicks, and stabbing front kicks. His left hook and his straight right are the best punches to look out for, and he likes to set up his left hook by landing the right calf kick forcing his opponent’s weight into the following punch. He is also great at feinting the front kick to land the right straight as well.
One thing to keep in mind is that while Wood is an orthodox fighter, Jourdain is a switch hitter. This will allow him to adapt to a southpaw game if Wood starts to gain momentum, and we have seen Wood susceptible to southpaw attacks in the past. Most notably, the left straight from the right stance did Casey Kenny extremely well in his defeat of Wood, and by switching stance Jourdain can take away the outside calf kick Wood loves so much. Wood stands very long and low for a boxer which has a trade-off, it allows him to begin defending takedowns with an already lowered base, but it allows opponents to get very close with knees down the middle. Jourdain has a showcase flying knee and goes to it often, so watch out for this opportunity.
However, as mentioned before, the advantage is in the takedown defense. Wood is very good at maintaining balance, especially when defending single legs because he doesn’t have to shift his weight with much exaggeration. While we expect a striking match for the most part, Jourdain and Wood have excellent submissions on their records, and both very good trip takedowns. Wood blends his outside trip into his striking combinations, circling and angling off of strikes and stepping his tripping leg round his opponent’s left calf. Jourdain tends to find his trips from a quick clinch in which he steps off and drags them into his tripping leg to his left. So while we may not see anyone vigorously chase double legs, watch for trip attempts in between the striking exchanges and who ends up on top potentially. While both men are well conditioned, forcing Wood to grapple has been the key way to getting some of his energy sapped in the past, and Jourdain has had difficulty escaping when his back has been taken.
I believe that while both men are coming into prime shape in their careers, the diversity of Jourdain’s approach is going to make it much more difficult to imitate his success in his past fights. Jourdain’s switch-hitting will cost some of Wood’s rhythm and will open him up to some southpaw attacks that were not a threat in Wood’s last fight. Wood tends to get off earlier than Jourdain, so expect the French-Canadian to have to weather a storm early, but ultimately he should get the victory as time goes on.
Prediction: Charles Jourdain to win (-144 odds at MyBookie)