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Josh Culibao of Australia poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 284 event at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Josh Culibao Is Putting Everything Together

Australian Featherweight Josh Culibao Believes He Has Everything In Place For A Statement-Making, Bonus-Winning Performance At UFC Fight Night: Tuivasa vs Tybura

Josh Culibao has a sense of giddy urgency around him as he closes in on his fight against Danny Silva at UFC Fight Night: Tuivasa vs Tybura. Part of it is the bout is his first since his decision loss to Lerone Murphy in July 2023, which snapped his three-fight winning streak. 

Another part of that energy is that this is his first fight since the birth of his daughter, Marley, something that changed his life but also something that was on his mind while he fought Murphy. His partner, Sarah, was due to give birth close to fight night, and the idea of being halfway across the world and missing that moment played on Culibao’s mind. He also thought about the responsibility of providing for his growing family, and he found himself thinking ahead rather than thinking about taking care of Murphy. 

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“Everything can go really good, but if you're not there present in the moment, the fight would just slip by,” Culibao told “I think that that's probably the biggest thing I took away from that fight is that you just have to be in the moment. And I feel like for me to be in the moment, I just have to enjoy it. I'm just (going to) put a smile on my face, get in there and enjoy doing what I do, and I'm sure I'll enter that flow state.” 

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As far as adapting to parenthood goes, Culibao said while it’s a change in lifestyle that comes with all the challenges you’d expect (mainly, sleeping), it’s also “the best.” 

Some fighters end up getting a motivational boost from becoming a parent, whereas others do more to separate work from family life. For “Kuya,” he falls somewhere in the middle. 

“I'm trying to not make it bigger than what it is,” Culibao said. “I'm trying to make it like, ‘This is just a fight, and the reason why I'm fighting is because I enjoy it.’ I'm not trying to add the extra pressure of, ‘I have a kid now, I got to fight for the kid.’ 

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“But also, on the same note, I am definitely motivated to be able to provide for my child and my family. They go hand-in-hand. I'm definitely trying to still enjoy this and not make it too serious, because we're fighting each other. It's pretty serious as it is. But then, also, understand that I'm providing for not only for myself now, but for my family.”

In Silva, Culibao is excited to face the 8-1 UFC debutant who was victorious on Dana White’s Contender Series in September 2023. Stylistically, the fight will more than likely take place in Culibao’s wheelhouse, which is in the standup game. 

Josh Culibao of Australia punches Lerone Murphy of England in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Josh Culibao of Australia punches Lerone Murphy of England in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The two have 10 wins via knockout combined, which plays into Culibao’s hopes for a performance bonus at night’s end, and it’s a matchup Culibao says, “puts the excitement” in him. 

“I think it's going to be an all-around standup fight,” Culibao said. “To be honest, I think it's going to be Fight of the Night. I think the stylistic matchup of him being able to be so strong on the feet and put on constant pressure, and me being the same way, I like to scrap too, and put on a good fight. I think one of us goes either goes down or (it) just becomes a three-round banger on the feet.”

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For all his eagerness to make the jaunt to the Octagon again, Culibao is mindful of staying in the moment this go-around. Not doing so halted the momentum he built in the ultra-competitive featherweight division, and although he is happy with the experience he gained during his first four years on the roster, he has loftier goals in mind for the future. 

Culibao said he knows he’s in the “flow state” when he can hear his own thoughts, as well as instructions from his coaches, which should be a tad easier in the close confines of the UFC APEX, and that is what he spent training camp focusing on finding. 

“If I don't come prepared, I'm just going to suffer in there,” he said. “I suffered in training, so hopefully the fight comes easy. “

Culibao has certainly shown flashes and talent through his first six UFC bouts, but he sees now as his time to come into his own. He feels much more accustomed to everything that comes with fighting for the mixed martial arts leader, and for as much as he doesn’t want to make his family the central motivator in his career, he has something extra to fight for, as well.

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On March 16, Culibao hopes to put everything together and give a window into what’s to come as well.

“I'm not getting any younger,” he said. “I feel like I'm just getting into my prime. (I’m) 29 years old, and I'm just getting into this swing of things, and my experience is coming around. I'm feeling more comfortable being a UFC fighter, being a part of the UFC and just being able to deal with everything. I feel that experience, plus the athletic prime, is all matching together.”

UFC Fight Night: Tuivasa vs Tybura took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 16, 2024. See the final Prelims and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass