The UFC is coming back to Auckland, New Zealand this weekend for the first time in roughly three years. UFC Auckland goes down inside the Spark Arena, with the card headlined by two lightweight contenders in Paul Felder and hometown fave Dan Hooker. In another lightweight bout, Jalin Turner was supposed to fight Jamie Mullarkey, but Mullarkey pulled out due to injury. The UFC has since signed Australian Joshua Culibao to step in on short notice against Turner.
How will Culibao fare in the UFC:
Culibao probably shouldn’t have been signed to the UFC just yet due to his level of competition. The injury to Mullarkey forced the promotion’s hand, however. Culibao has beat a few decent opponents but it would have been nice to see him get in a few more fights first.
With that said, I’m pretty high on Culibao because although he hasn’t been fighting the best competition, he looks really good. There are a lot of good qualities he’s shown in his fights that many fighters in the UFC don’t have. Culibao has excellent footwork, never staying still and always switching stances. He’s really good going backwards as he’s a dangerous and accurate counter striker. Joshua is always throwing a lot of volume going to the head and ripping the body as well. Culibao has a good set of attacks, as he likes to throw knees and does have a head kick finish in his career. He’s gone five rounds before and his cardio looked pretty good doing so. He doesn’t wrestle too often but does have it in his back pocket. Culibao is better on showing solid elbows and position control. The Aussie doesn’t have any glaring holes but his takedown defense is questionable. Future prediction: potential top 15.
How do Culibao and Turner match up:
Culibao is moving up to lightweight in this bout and Turner is a very big lightweight. Turner is 6’3″ which is six inches taller than Culibao. It may indeed be too tall of a task for Culibao to handle. Turner is a rangy striker who uses the jab, technique, explosiveness, and kicks to fall back on. Turner has struggled off his back and with takedown defense in general so that is the likely route to victory for Culibao. Culibao has the better cardio as well but where the fight is on short notice it’s tough to say whether that will play too much of a factor. It’s a very close fight but I’ll give the edge to Turner just because of the size advantage and Culibao fighting on short notice.