Charles Jourdain entered the UFC as one of Canada’s most highly touted MMA prospects, riding a four-fight win streak in which he finished each opponent.
Unfortunately for the 24-year-old Beloeil, Que., native, that momentum was derailed in his UFC debut, when he lost a unanimous decision to Desmond Green.
Scheduled to make his return this Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Busan, South Korea, Jourdain says the stress and magnitude of the event will make him a better fighter.
"I've had grey hairs since I started fighting. I'm a super-stressed individual. It helps me stay sharp,” said Jourdain on the TSN MMA Show. “The only fight I wasn't stressed was the fight against Desmond Green, which I lost. I need more stress in my life.
“Stress is a good factor for fighting. We need that extra pressure to help us stay sharp.”
As he looks for his first UFC win, Jourdain will need to traverse the stress and unfamiliar territory of fighting overseas for the first time, against the toughest opponent of his career.
"The travel [is stressing me out]. Thinking about going to face a superstar over there and about what happens if I lose, what happens if I win,” said Jourdain. “You make up scenarios and you’re not living in the moment when you're stressed. I need to find my centre point and be in the moment.”
Jourdain has already experienced how his stress can get the best of him and is ready to make corrections to ensure he gets his hand raised on Saturday.
"Once you're inside the cage, you're a monster. You have to unleash everything you have inside of you,” said Jourdain. “Of course I'm stressed, but once they lock that cage I feel 100 per cent free.
“I need to feel the pressure once again. I need to prove to people that I can be the guy who comes into the other guys' backyard and says, 'I’m the man.’ That's what I need to do. I need to be sure I learned from the fight against Desmond.”
Standing across the octagon on Saturday will be Doo Ho Choi, one of the UFC’s most exciting fighters. “The Korean Superboy” has collected 11 of his 14 wins by knockout and has received Fight of the Night honours in his last four bouts, including the Fight of the Year for his wild slugfest with Cub Swanson at UFC 206.
The 28-year-old’s power and willingness to move forward and press his opponents plays right into the stress that Jourdain has been craving.
“I want to meet that guy who's going to walk me down and [make me] dig deeper. I've never had that feeling,” said Jourdain. “That is one of my worst fears and my fantasy. I want someone to walk me down and scream at me so I have to dig deep and overcome it.
“From what I've seen in most of his fights, he's very good for the first three minutes, and he's very, very good when you let him walk you down.”
After a two-year layoff for military service, Choi wants to return and make waves in his home country by snapping his two-fight losing streak. “Air” Jourdain knows a two-year break is a lifetime in MMA and is prepared for whatever Choi brings to the cage.
"I need to not make expectations [for Choi]. I can't say he's going to have ring rust. It's been two years since he's fought,” said Jourdain. “Maybe he changed his whole arsenal. Maybe he's way better. Maybe he's way worse. It's going to be a surprise.”
Jourdain’s first UFC fight came in Green’s hometown of Rochester, N.Y., and he will once again have to fight an opponent with home-field advantage. Last time, the former TKO featherweight champion let the hostile crowd affect his performance. On Saturday, he vows to correct his mistake and earn his first UFC win.
“I've dealt with pressure in the worst way,” Jourdain said. “I've cracked under it and I need to be better and make sure I don't crack under pressure against Doo Ho Choi in Busan.”