March 25 ------ Joshua Culibao has finally hit the big time! It is every MMA fighter’s dream to make it to the UFC, the biggest stage in the sport. Carrying an 8-0 record, he stepped inside the octagon last weekend at UFC Auckland, the promotion’s third foray in New Zealand, and it was an opportunity for the Filipino-Australian nicknamed “Kuya” to introduce himself to the world. Unfortunately, Jalin Turner stopped him in the second round, but I’m certain a setback like this will not dampen the youngster’s hopes to move forward in the sport.
The STAR was able to chat with Josh a day before his debut.
The Philippine STAR: How did you get started in MMA?
Joshua Culibao: I started when I was 15, as I was a chubby kid pushing close to 100 kgs. I wanted to lose weight and gain confidence in myself.
What had you accomplished in MMA before signing to UFC?
I’d won three belts in Australia’s promotions: I’m the Hex Fight Fight Series Featherweight champion, Superfight Featherweight champion and Diamondback Fighting Featherweight champion.
How did you make it to UFC?
I got signed to UFC because one of my training partners, who was in UFC Auckland, got injured in training for the fight. I was so lucky to get the call, and I had to take the opportunity.
Are you a full-time fighter?
Before I got signed, I was a full-time electrician doing 40-plus-hour workweeks with training on top.
Did you train differently for this fight?
I train six days a week on striking, wrestling and grappling, and Sunday I run eight to 10 kilometers. This fight is above my normal weight class, so the only thing different I did for this camp was eat more.
What is your favorite food?
Chicken adobo, for sure! My fighter’s diet is the worst diet for any Filipino — no rice with any of my meals. You know, I visit the Philippines every year and I usually spend most of my time in Manila, but occasionally I’ll visit Boracay. My mom is from there and dad is from Pampanga. Mabuhay! I’m very proud to be part of this program. Thanks to my fellow Filipinos for their continued support.