It wasn’t easy but on May 22 Josh Culibao finally got his first win in the UFC. The Australian was signed to the promotion in 2020 on a short-notice fight opportunity.
Things didn’t go his way unfortunately but he was determined to prove he belonged in the big leagues. His next performance saw the fight end in a controversial draw before finally earning a hard-fought decision over Shayilan Nuerdanbieke.
“It was a good performance,” Culibao told MyMMANews. “It was a very disciplined performance where I stuck to the game plan and never really went off the path and tried to do something else. I think it was a very disciplined performance. We stuck to the game plan and got the job done.”
Culibao can be very critical of his own performance. Like most competitors, he would have preferred to get the finish.
“If I was being very critical I would’ve liked to get the stoppage,” Culibao said. “I feel like if I did put a little bit more pressure- like kind of forced and been a little bit more aggressive I could have gotten him out of there. I think it was just good to just get the octagon time and play it safe and finally get that first ‘W’ in the UFC.”
Now coming off of his first victory, the ball is now in his court. He’s able to determine when he wants to fight next and even who he wants to fight next.
Right now the smart move is to target the card with an Australian title fight. Competing in Australia or New Zealand would simply be a bonus.
“The next thing I really want to be on is Alex Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega fight card,” Culibao said of his next move. “I think it would be awesome to be on a card with our champion and hopefully get other local Australian or New Zealand fighters on that card as well. That’s what I was thinking. If not, if the UFC decides to come back to Australia/New Zealand I think that would be the best as well. Either or.”
With a return date in mind, the question now becomes: who’s next? It’s a simple one but many fighters seem to struggle with it when asked. Culibao is not one of those fighters.
“There was someone I was calling out for a while, which was Chase Hooper, but after watching his performance, it wasn’t something that made me want to fight now after him losing [like that.] I don’t think I want to fight Chase Hooper now. Maybe we will fight [Steven Peterson.] That would be a good fight. Another fight, which I think is eventually going to happen, is the rematch with Charles Jourdain. Because it was such a controversial decision. He thinks he won, I think I won. So it’s sort of one of those things that I feel like maybe down the line we will fight. We will see what’s next. I don’t know who else could be next.”