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Quebec featherweight looks forward to facing Korean Superboy on hostile ground

Canadian featherweight Charles (Air) Jourdain figures he was fighting himself as much as Desmond (The Predator) Green when he made his UFC debut in May.

Jourdain took the Green fight on short notice — he was still feeling the effects of a five-round fight in another promotion the previous month — and moved up a weight class to lightweight (155 pounds) just to get his foot in the UFC door.

Adding to the emotion was the fact Jourdain was fighting in Rochester, N.Y., Green's hometown. 

Jourdain (9-2-0) started slowly but came on, eventually losing a unanimous decision. While he scored repeatedly with leg kicks, the Canadian's cause was not helped by a series of takedowns by Green late in the fight.

"I think I cracked under pressure in Rochester," Jourdain said. "I don't want it to happen again so I said 'OK give me a fight that's similar. I want hostile territory, I want to conquer this fear of fighting away.'

"I learned from this mistake and I want to prove to everybody that I can fight on enemy territory and still perform like I was performing back in Montreal." 

The 24-year-old from Beloeil, Que., got his wish — a bout Saturday with (The Korean Superboy) Dohoo Choi in Busan, South Korea. No stranger to Asia having trained in Korea, Thailand and Japan, Jourdain chose to fight in Busan over taking part in a September card in Vancouver.

"I always loved the culture. I love the atmosphere over there," he said. "It's very different from America ... Even though I'm going to be in enemy territory, I'm super-excited."

Jourdain, a two-division champion in the Montreal-based TKO promotion prior to joining the UFC, had his first 10 pro fights in Quebec, posting a 9-1-0 record.

Jourdain said he found his first UFC experience "absolutely intimidating."

"I never thought it would be that much pressure on my shoulders," he said.

Eventually he said he let himself go against Green — fighting the way that got him into the UFC.

"Third round went my way except for the takedowns in the last few seconds," he said. "I was getting my groove as the fight was going on."

Jourdain normally walks around at 155 pounds and cuts down to featherweight (145 pounds). In contrast, Green weighed around 172 pounds fight night once he rehydrated from his weight cut.

Jourdain is one of three Canadians on Saturday's UFC Fight Night card at Sajik Arena.

Quebec middleweight Marc-Andre (Powerbar) Barriault (11-2-0) faces South Korea's Jun Yong Park (10-3-0) while Alberta heavyweight Tanner (The Bulldozer) Boser (17-5-1) meets France's Cyril (Bon Gamin) Gane (4-0-0).

Barriault has lost both his UFC fights to date while Boser is 1-0-0 in the Octagon.

The main event was to have featured Brian (T-City) Ortega, ranked second among featherweight contenders, against No. 6 Chan Sung Jung, better known as the Korean Zombie. But Ortega injured a knee in training and has been replaced by former lightweight champion Frankie (The Answer) Edgar, currently ranked fourth among 145-pound contenders.

Edgar, who had been preparing for his bantamweight debut against Cory Sandhagen in January, took the fight on some 16 days notice.

Ortega has not fought since taking a beating at the hands of then-featherweight champion Max (Blessed) Holloway at UFC 231 in Toronto last December.

Injuries, marriage and restrictions due to Korean compulsory military service, meanwhile, have cut into Choi's fighting schedule in recent years.

The 28-year-old Choi (14-2-0) has not fought since January 2018 when he was stopped in the second round by veteran Jeremy (Lil' Heathen) Stephens in a slugfest. He lost a unanimous decision to Cub Swanson prior to that, in December 2016, in another bruising war of attrition.

The Korean needed just four minutes 13 seconds to win his first three UFC fights, including an 18-second KO of Juan Manuel Puig in his debut with the promotion in November 2014.

Choi is currently restricted to fighting in Korea. Given his age and the fact he has yet to serve his compulsory military service, he is not allowed to travel abroad.

Jourdain, who started MMA training when he was 15 "out of curiosity," fought 12 times as an amateur before having his first pro fight in May 2016.

A former bouncer and bartender, he has trained and fought full time for the last 2 1/2 years. 

Saturday's card is available on UFC's Fight Pass.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2019.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press