Choi Seung-woo is a South Korean fighter with a 10-4 professional record. In the UFC, the 29-year-old featherweight is 3-3 with a knockout win, 2 submission losses, and the rest of his fights going to decision.
Joshua “Kuya” Culibao, 28, is an Australian fighter with a 9-1-1 record and is 1-1-1 in the UFC. His sole loss was via knockout while his win went to decision.
Choi and Culibao will battle at this weekend’s UFC 275 event in Singapore. UFC 275 is a PPV event featuring two title fights and a highly-anticipated strawweight rematch between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The full fight card will air exclusively on
Choi is a respectable favorite over Culibao before UFC 275 according to bookmaker BetUS.
A successful $100 bet on Choi to win would return $141 on the night. Culibao, who is currently listed as a decent-sized underdog, would return a larger total of $290 for winners.
Choi is better than his record suggests but has a clear flaw in his game. The blueprint to beating Choi is to wrestle him down and look for a choke. Choi’s defensive wrestling and grappling leave much to be desired, and, even in fights he was winning, as soon as his opponent locks their hands, Choi tends to hit the mat. Striking, though, is where Choi shines. He is a long and strong kickboxer who throws combinations with real heat. He often strikes in lightning-quick two-to-three punch combinations that are powerful and crisp. Choi’s straight down-the-barrel cross is deadly and when he sits down to throw it, can do real damage. In a kickboxing match, Choi often has the edge in reach, speed, and power. However, when forced to grapple, Choi severely struggles. The saving grace in Choi’s game is that he is growing. He has shown better footwork, which he uses to exit the pocket after an exchange, and better range knowledge so he can avoid being a stationary target for a takedown. If Choi continues to develop, he is a fighter worth keeping on your radar.
Culibao embodies the Australian toughness that UFC fans have grown accustomed to out of Aussie fighters. His fight style, similar to that of fighters from New Zealand and Hawaii, is to stand and throw until someone drops or the final bell sounds. Culibao has solid striking technique, a basic but effective calf kick, and a right hand that can land damage. His striking arsenal is bare, but, what he lacks in variety and athleticism, he more than makes up for in toughness and persistence. Typically, Culibao will walk forward and snap a leg kick at his opponent. His goal is to create a stationary target so Culibao can plant, swing big, and make the fight a toe to toe phone booth brawl. If his opponent circles out, Culibao immediately walks forward and looks to continue the pressure. He is likely to have a long and entertaining career in the UFC, acting as a gatekeeper who can pressure opponents and test their will in a war. However, Culibao needs to add a wrestling component or improve his power if he wants to climb the division.
Choi has a tailor-made matchup against Culibao. Thus far, the only fights Choi has lost have come against dedicated and effective wrestlers. When he’s faced strikers, Choi has looked impressive. Culibao, typically, only wants to stand and strike. In this fight, Choi will have the edge in size, speed, and technique. I prefer Choi in parlays since he has power while Culibao has a fantastic chin. But, as a straight play, I like Choi by decision.
Prediction: Choi to win by decision (+175 at BetUS)
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.