Featherweights Josh Culibao and Melsik Baghdasaryan faced off on the UFC 284 preliminary card, with Culibao enjoying home field advantage in the fight.
Baghdasaryan was undefeated in the UFC, but had missed all of 2022. He looked to make up for lost time on Saturday, staying active early in the face of some Culibao kicks, and a thunderous Australian audience in attendance at the RAC Arena in Perth.
Sydney native Culibao nearly caught a kick about two minutes in, but the blow to the body still landed at least partially. Baghdasaryan ate a number of kicks to the thigh, pressing forward. Baghdasaryan mixed up his own kicking attacks, going high to the body and even flashing a front kick. Melsik was showing some redness on the thigh by the end of the round, while Culibao was bloodied by a Baghdasaryan hook.
In the dying seconds of the frame, kickboxer Melsik Baghdasaryan fired a spinning back kick — landing with the heel to Culibao’s groin. Culibao immediately went down in pain; he was given five minutes to recover, but took just over two. On the restart, both fighters fanned on kicks up top.
An axe kick saw Baghdasaryan open round two with flair. The duo traded kicks, though whether it was wise for Culibao to play to Baghdasaryan’s strengths was a question. Takedowns, however, had been an afterthought in the fight, if they had been thought of at all in the early going.
The tide turned in a heartbeat. A kick for Culibao was followed immediately by a jab, which took Baghdasaryan off his feet. The Australian was immediately all over him! Culibao locked up a tight rear-naked choke, hooks in, and while Baghdasaryan fought the hands briefly, he was forced to tap while the crowd in attendance roared in approval.
JOSH CULIBAO HAS NO QUIT 😤@CulibaoMMA taps Baghdasaryan after dealing with adversity in Round 1! #UFC284 pic.twitter.com/bbDsfTO732
— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2023
Official Result: Josh Culibao def. Melsik Baghdasaryan by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 2:02