This Saturday, the UFC will make its return to New Zealand for UFC Fight Night 168. The card is stacked from top to bottom with exciting fan-friendly bouts. The majority of the spotlight being on the main event, between top lightweight contenders Paul Felder and Dan Hooker.
Here, we will be taking a look at undefeated Australian prospect Joshua Culibao, who stepped in on short notice, replacing his training partner Jamie Mullarkey to make his UFC debut against Jalin Turner on this upcoming card. The fight will be the featured bout of the prelims and is an excellent opportunity for Josh to prove to the world that he is UFC-calibre.
Born in Sydney, Culibao trains out of Igor MMA under head coach Igor Breakenback and holds a professional record of 8-0 with a notable victory over Brazilian veteran Rodolfo Marques. He is the number one ranked featherweight in the Australia and New Zealand region. Despite the fact that he is a natural featherweight, this fight will be taking place in the lightweight division. Josh was kind enough to let me interview him ahead of his biggest fight to date.
Question: We’re not long out from the fight now, how do you prepare yourself mentally through fight week as the fight gets closer, and will there be more nerves than ever this time considering it’s your UFC debut?
Josh’s Answer: I treat it like any other fight! With it being short notice I don’t think it has fully sunken in that it is the UFC. I definitely feel nerves but no different to what I’ve already felt.
Q: What do you make of your opponent Jalin Turner’s skill set and how it matches up with yours, do you study your opponents, if so, to what extent?
A: Jalin is a great young talented fighter with experience in the UFC. He is a tough fight for anybody. I usually watch his fights once or twice but I leave it to my coach to deal with watching and seeing his faults and weaknesses.
Q: What does it mean to you to carry the Australasian MMA scene forward along with the wave of talent from the region in the UFC right now?
A: It’s huge! I want to do my people proud (Australians/Filipinos). I want to show we have a lot more talented kids coming up here ready to explode on the scene.
Q: After your upcoming fight, how active are you looking to stay in 2020, providing you come out of the fight healthy?
A: I’m looking for at least 2 more this year. I had a quiet 2019, time to make the most of this and strike while the iron is hot.
Q: Do you watch MMA just as a fan anyway so do you know the landscape of your divisions, and is there anyone specific in the divisions you’d love to fight or will you just work towards the rankings getting through anyone?
A: Of course I’m a massive fan. I’m a die hard fan. There are a few guys that I would love to fight who I think would be a great match up for me. I don’t like to name them but I think me and Kyle Bochniak would be a cracker of a fight. But I’m always just willing to fight whoever to get me in the rankings.
I would like to thank Joshua Culibao for taking the time to do this interview with me. I wish him all the best for his fight on Saturday. You can find his social media accounts below.
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