UFC Auckland’s Debuting Fighters: How Will Joshua Culibao Fare?

Joshua Culibao UFC
Joshua Culibao Credit: Youtube/UFC

Auckland, New Zealand is the next destination for octagon to touch down in. Headlining UFC Auckland this weekend are lightweight contenders Paul Felder and Dan Hooker. Throughout the card there are a lot of fighters embarking on their second outing in the UFC. Only one actual debut is set for this card, however. That debuting fighter is Australian Joshua Culibao

Jalin Turner (8-5) vs. Joshua Culibao (8-0)

Narrative: Jalin Turner was expected to take on Jamie Mullarkey at UFC Auckland. However, Mullarkey pulled out due to injury. As expected the UFC brought in someone from Australia/New Zealand. Culibao is the man stepping in on short notice, moving up a division to take on the lengthy Turner. Turner is 1-2 in the UFC, and he’s looking to hand Culibao his first professional loss.

Shawn Bitter: 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 but given the fight is on short notice for him, it’s tough to say whether that will play 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.

Max Freedman: Normally a featherweight, Joshua Culibao goes up to lightweight for this one against a very large 155lb’er in Jalin Turner. Despite being billed as a grappler, Culibao has a whopping 0 wins by submission in his pro career. Turner has had a long 10 months to reflect over that loss to Matt Frevola and I fully expect him to come in here and take care of business on the feet. Turner TKO Round 2.

Marcel Dorff: Joshua Culibao is an undefeated fighter who takes this fight on short notice a weight class up. He takes on Jalin Turner. Turner is a big Lightweight and impressed on  Dana White’s Contender Series. He had a tough short notice debut against Luque, but absolutely demolished Callan Potter in his sophomore appearance. He did not impress against Matt Frevola in his most recent bout. But I expect him to do well on the feet and KO Culibao at the end of the second round. I think that the height advantage for Turner will play a HUGE part in this fight. Tarantula via KO in the 2nd.

Anthony Walker: This feels like a good reset for Turner. Taking on a decent prospect who seems to enjoy a good striking contest is a good way to showcase Turner’s size and athletic ability. This being a short notice replacement situation only magnifies the difficulty for Culibao.

Ryan Fortune: I favor Turner in this fight. Cuilbao, a career featherweight is stepping up to lightweight to face one of the biggest lightweights on the roster in Turner. However, I’m not super confident in siding with Turner, as he has shown concerns in the past within his takedown defense and his striking defense. However, I believe the Octagon experience will play a factor here alongside the huge size advantage, therefore I’m picking Turner to get the job done.

Kristen King: Joshua Culibao is certainly a fun fighter to watch and I am beyond excited to see him put in some work in the UFC, but I cannot shake the feeling that Jalin Turner is probably not the best opponent for him in his debut. Not only is Culibao taking this fight on just a few weeks’ notice, but he is also moving up in weight against literally one of the biggest guys at lightweight. As good as he is in nearly every aspect of the game, I just see the longer and more powerful Turner having a relatively easy time with Culibao. I expect a first-round knockout from the UFC veteran, but I am confident that Culibao will bounce back and have a solid showing in the lightweight division.

Keith Shillan: It is always tough to make your UFC debut, but it gets even more difficult when you have to take it on short notice while moving up a weight class and fighting one of the largest guys in the division. That is exactly what hometown hero Joshua Culibao is facing when he squares off with Jalin Turner at UFC Auckland.

The 25-year-old does have the credentials to deserve his call up to the big leagues. He is a perfect 8-0 with five stoppages and has gathered regional titles in three different promotions so far in his brief career. The Australian is a solid striker. He uses a lot of movement and stance switches to set up his traps before attacking with fast hands and a large arsenal of kicks. He packs some wallop in his blows but it is unknown if the power will carry up a division.

Expect Turner to welcome a striking battle between the two. The extremely long and lengthy southpaw struggles to maintain his reach advantage but makes up for it with accuracy and nice snap on his punches. His check right hook is his best punch. While he has the propensity to drop his hands, he does well to avoid strikes by constantly bouncing his head off the center line. While he is a dangerous boxer, his kicks and step-ins knees remain the cornerstone of his game. He also likes to dazzle the crowd with spinning attacks. If Culibao is going to be victorious he will need to get the fight to the canvas because Turner is nothing short of terrible in the wrestling department. The UFC debutant isn’t a powerful wrestler himself but he does well at winning scrambles while dispatching heavy ground and pound. He can’t get lazy on top though because the Tarantula loves to attack with guillotines and triangle chokes off his back. I give Culibao a decent chance based on not being very high on the DWCS alumni, but the size advantage will likely be too much to overcome. I will take Turner by second-round TKO.

Daniel Vreeland: Turner

Standings (Year to Date)

Anthony Walker: 6-3
Ryan Fortune: 6-3
Kristen King: 6-4
Shawn Bitter: 5-5
Max Freedman: 5-5
Daniel Vreeland 5-5
Marcel Dorff: 4-6
Keith Shillan: 2-8