Similar to both men’s recent fights, many of the more devout fans had Charles Jourdain vs Nathaniel Wood earmarked as one of the most exciting fights on Saturday’s UFC Paris card and even as a likely Fight of the Night. The two had been booked for a quick turn around following Wood’s successful immigration from bantamweight to featherweight which saw him beat Charles Rosa and Jourdain’s semi-successful invasion of the division’s top-15 which gained the Canadian a bevy of new fans of his exciting style despite a controversial decision loss to Shane Burgos.
Jourdain is known as a slow starter who builds throughout the fight but here he got off to a somewhat fast start, though Nate Wood was able to match that pace and get an early takedown into top full guard, exploiting Jourdain’s weakness to wrestling. Jourdain did all he could to get back to his feet and was eventually able to return to his feet against the fence, though Wood still had a body lock until Charles was able to break it. ‘Air Jourdain’ returned from that grappling sequence with a vengeance, looking to earn back the minutes he lost on his back until a cup shot unfortunately paused the action. Jourdain quickly waved the referee off and got back to striking but a right hand from the Brit staggered him briefly but did not press his advantage. Wood was able to land two more big shots that pushed Charles backwards in the last minute of the first round which offset the slight volume advantage that Jourdain seemed to have. A close round, which Nate Wood seemed to have edged, ended with a fist bump between the athletes.
Early in round two a body kick from Jourdain ended in the Canadian slipping and falling to his back, which Wood took advantage of. However, this time Charles got back to his feet much quicker than the first time and back into his area of expertise. Being the bigger fighter and the slower fighter seemed to be uncomfortable for Jourdain, but he still fought the same fight he always does: he ripped the body, worked clinch striking, and went for the knockout with all he had. Once again Nate Wood got a takedown around the halfway point of round two, this time right in the center of the cage with no fence to help Charles back to his feet. Nate was unable to do much damage yet again, but Charles was similarly unable to stand up until the ref stood them up. Jourdain was having more success striking in this round, especially in the clinch and had not yet eaten any of the big right hands that rocked him in the first stanza, though he ate a big left hook late. Jourdain and Wood frequently exchanged dirty boxing in the clinch and at one point Jourdain even hit a foot sweep but his top time did not last long. A failed takedown attempt from Wood and a partially landed spinning elbow from Jourdain ended a close round.
More clinch uppercuts to the body came from the Canadian early on in the third round. Another trip around the one minute mark sent him to his back and after a short scramble Nate Wood too the back without hooks. Charles escaped by rolling into full guard and then stood up into the clinch against the fence where both men tried more clinch striking. Wood landed a particularly hard elbow here but Jourdain soon countered with a spinning elbow that glanced off the target. Another foot sweep from Wood sent Charles to his back, too easily perhaps, but Nate let him stand back up, also a bit too easily perhaps. More dirty clinch exchanges, with each man fighting for grips and frames to land strikes, followed. Unlike many previous opponents of Jourdain, Nate refused to let the momentum build against him and his cardio was more than up to the task of fighting Jourdain’s. Wood was just beating the Canadian to the punch just enough with his slight speed advantage and their gentleman’s agreement to largely fight in the pocket/clinch favored the speedier figher. In the final thirty seconds ‘Air’ Jourdain tried to get some of his famous flying attacks going but Wood smothered him with a clinch exchange and tripped him to the mat one last time for good measure. The fight ended with the Parisian crowd’s favored fighter on his back and tired, but the French fans were still appreciative of a gritty performance from both men.
It seemed that Wood had gotten just enough of an advantage in striking, particularly in the first and third rounds, to win the decision, but with judges one can never be sure. When Bruce Buffer read out the scorecards it was no surprise as Nathaniel Wood won on all three scorecards, with one 30-27 thrown in for good measure. Two fights in six weeks had quickly established the Brit as a fringe 145-lb contender already. In his post-fight speech, Nate Wood opened up briefly about his struggles with anxiety, following in the footsteps of his fellow countryman Paddy Pimblett who famously discussed mental health in his post-fight speech when they both fought on the second UFC London event of 2022, likely earning even more fans on top of an impressive performance.
Official Result: Nathaniel Wood def. Charles Jourdain via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)