'Kuya' Josh Culibao wants to become the next Filipino MMA star

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2023 09:28 PM

Culibao aims to become as 'big' as Mark Munoz, Brandon Vera

File photo
File photo

Filipino-Australian fighter Josh "Kuya" Culibao is looking to make his mark in the UFC just like the Filipino-bred superstars that came before him.

Culibao, born to Filipino immigrants in Australia, wants to be just like other "Kuyas" of Philippine MMA which includes Mark Munoz and Brandon Vera.

"To carry the weight of the whole nation, I'm proud of it," said the Sydney-based fighter in an online interview with fight scribes. "I want to be the next Mark Munoz, the next Brandon Vera." 

"I'm just being me, I'm super proud to be the next Filipino combat athlete. Even though I was born here in Australia, I'm proud to be Filipino."

The 28-year-old featherweight is set to make his second pay-per-view appearance onFebruary 12 in UFC 284 against a dangerous striker in Melsik Baghdasaryan. 

The event, set at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, will be headlined by the UFC lightweight title fight between current champion Islam Makhachev and current UFC featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski.

"Both my parents are Filipino. My dad is born and raised in Pampanga. My mom they grew up in Manila. My mom is a flight attendant and my dad worked overseas as a metal sheet worker in Saudi Arabia," said Culibao.

Although he was born Down Under, Culibao was able to experience much Filipino culture, especially the dishes.

He admitted that he enjoyed Pinoy dishes so much, he grew as heavy as 220 pounds.

"I was very, very taba. I was pushing a hundred kilos at the age of 15-16. Because obviously I kept eating, everything's too fat. Like the lechon 'pampabata' all of those stuff, think of Mang Inasal, think of sisig," said Culibao.

"I can't blame my parents for all of it, but I didn't care. You know guys how it is. My parents ask me how my day was, then they ask me, 'Have you eaten yet?'"

But martial arts espoused discipline and this helped him keep the weight under control. He now fights as a 145-pounder in the UFC.

Culibao holds an MMA record of 10-1-1 while his opponent Baghdasaryan is 7-1.

"I think this will be a fun fight. If that's what they want, they want to see violence... I think they put this together because Melsic and me matche well together," he said.

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