Canadian featherweight Charles (Air) Jourdain's grappling skills will be tested when he faces Kron Gracie on May 6 at UFC 288 in Newark, N.J.
As his last name suggests, Gracie is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace. The California-based Brazilian is the son of Erickson Gracie and grandson of the late Helio Gracie, the co-founder of BJJ.
Kron Gracie (5-1-0) last fought in October 2019 when he lost a decision to veteran American Cub Swanson. He won his only other UFC fight, choking out American Alex (Bruce Leeroy) Caceres in February 2019.
Jourdain (13-6-1) has fought nine times since Gracie's last outing.
Gracie earned his BJJ black belt at the age of 19 and all five of his MMA wins have come via submission. Four of those wins were decided in the first round.
Jourdain has been submitted just once, via Brabo choke at the hands of American Julian (Juicy J) Erosa in September 2021.
The 27-year-old native of Beloeil, Que., is 4-5-1 in the UFC after losing his last two bouts by decision to Nathaniel (The Prospect) Wood and (Hurricane) Shane Burgos.
Both were close contests.
According to UFC stats, Jourdain had a 113-42 advantage in significant strikes against Burgos last July in Elmont, N.Y., but the American took him down twice, attempted three submissions and had more than six minutes control time. Two judges scored it 29-28 for Burgos with the third calling it a 28-28 tie.
Jourdain lost a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 decision to England's Wood in September in Paris in a tight fight contested in close quarters with both landing shots. The show was the UFC's first in France, which adopted regulations allowing MMA in January 2020.
While the UFC has yet to confirm the UFC 288 main event at the Prudential Center, reports have pegged the matchup as Henry (The Messenger) Cejudo coming out of retirement to challenge bantamweight champion Aljamain (Funk Master) Sterling.
Cejudo, a former Olympic wrestling champion, has held both the UFC flyweight and bantamweight titles. He vacated the bantamweight crown last May when he announced his retirement.
Fights confirmed for the UFC 288 card include a matchup of former lightweight champion Charles (do Bronx) Oliveira, the current No. 1 contender at 155 pounds, and No. 4 Beneil Dariush.
It marks the UFC's first event at the Prudential Center since August 2019 when Colby (Chaos) Covington won a unanimous decision over (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler in the main event of a Fight Night card.
The New Jersey Devils' home arena has played host to UFC events dating back to 2007, including world championship bouts featuring Canadian Georges St-Pierre, Jon (Bones) Jones, Mauricio (Shogun) Rua and Urijah (The California Kid) Faber.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2023.
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press