Fight Island simply has a different feel to it, and Charles Jourdain is set to experience it for the first time.
Montreal, QC’s Jourdain (10-3) will square off with Australia’s Joshua Culibao (8-1) in a featherweight showdown on Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 16 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
After seeing the success and adoration of the UFC’s first stint on Fight Island, Jourdain, 24, said he’s eager and honoured to have the opportunity to compete on this stage the second go-round.
“I’m so excited that I cannot put it into words. I know it’s going to be part of history and I know it’s a one-of-a-kind situation,” said Jourdain in an interview with MMA Empire.
“We’ll look back at it in 10 years and I can say when I was younger we were fighting during this pandemic, there was no crowd, in the desert, in Abu Dhabi. It’s a good story to tell, and I’m proud to be able to live that story right now.”
This will be Jourdain’s second endeavour into the no-crowd dynamic in a UFC fight, having fought Andre Fili back in June at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.
Jourdain said he’s normally someone who connects with the crowd and is liked by the crowd, and prior to his fight with Fili, he wasn’t sure he was going to like not having fans in attendance.
But after experiencing it for the first time, Jourdain said he ended up loving it.
“I get along with the crowd a lot because of my style. Back in TKO MMA, I was like the Conor McGregor of TKO, if you will. I was the little poster boy with the smile who was f**king people up. When I went into the fight with Fili, I was asking myself how am I going to perform,” said Jourdain.
“But that fight with Fili just woke something in me. I was like no crowd? I don’t give a f**k, I’m here to murder someone. It just woke this killer inside me, and I just loved it so much. I actually think there was too many people. In my head, there should be just one ref, and even our cornermen shouldn’t be there. Take everything else out, and that would be so vicious and cool.”
Jourdain has been battle-tested
Right from his UFC debut against Des Green, Jourdain has been tested with some of the best fighters the featherweight and lightweight divisions have to offer. Following his UFC debut against Green, Jourdain earned his first UFC win with a second round knockout of Doo Ho Choi, before falling to Fili via split decision his last time in the cage.
With the calibre of opponents he’s already faced so early in his career, Jourdain said it’s a big confidence booster heading into Saturday’s matchup with Culibao.
“I’m fighting Josh Culibao, who’s a dangerous foe, but he has nothing on these guys. I’m not saying this out of cockiness, I’m just talking some simple facts,” said Jourdain.
“He’s not a Doo Ho Choi-calibre fighter, he’s not an Andre Fili, and he doesn’t have the wrestling background of Desmond Green. It’s not about him this fight; it’s all about me.”
Jourdain has rapidly become known for his flashy and crisp striking style, a quality that also served him well on the regional scene in Canada.
Although Culibao is also considered a striker himself, Jourdain said he expects Culibao to do the same thing most other strikers he’s faced has done, which is turn into a wrestler.
“Every time I’m fighting strikers, they always go for the shoot. Whenever I’m fighting someone and I’m expecting a stand-up war, they always end up shooting on me, just like Fili did,” said Jourdain.
“Even though Culibao considers himself a striker, he’s going to be a wrestler. I’m going to start kicking and punching the s**t out of him, and he’s going to turn into a wrestler. That’s what I expect.”
Follow Jourdain on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM