Melsik Baghdasaryan

Australian fighter Joshua “Kuya” Culibao, 28, has had a rough stint in the UFC thus far in his career. He is 2-1-1 but has faced four legit guys, his sole loss came against Jalin Turner, who is currently ranked 10 in the lightweight division. Culibao’s draw was an exciting fight against a nearly-ranked featherweight. “Kuya’s” most recent fight was a split decision win. In the UFC, Culibao has had tough fights against tough opponents but is always game.

Melsik “The Gun” Baghdasaryan, 31, is undefeated in the UFC following a decision win on Contender Series in 2020. Since then, “The Gun” has gone 2-0 with a knockout and a decision win.

Betting Odds

Odds opened at near pick’em and have remained steady throughout the week.

  • Culibao: -110
  • Baghdasaryan: -110

Josh Culibao vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan prediction | UFC 284 1

Fight Breakdown

Culibao is a class island fighter. He is a solid striker, mainly a boxer, with pop. He has reliable takedown defense, more on the basis of strength and athleticism in contrast to an ability to scramble. Culibao also has a chin and cardio that can test the will of most of his opponents. Lastly, like many of his countrymen, Culibao is unafraid of a scrap and often gets into exciting brawls. Culibao only has 4 UFC fights and 2 of them have already gone to a split decision because he tends to fight in the same way each time he steps into the octagon.

Typically, Culibao will walk forward with a wide boxing base and heavy front leg looking to exchange blows in the pocket. He often has the edge in power and durability so a 50/50 brawl suits him well. However, when he faces a more technical or longer striker who can avoid a toe-to-toe slugfest, Culibao ends up chasing his opponent around the cage as he gets tagged with jabs and calf kicks. If he can cut off the cage and swing freely, Culibao can land heavy combinations that deal real damage. The issue is, because he moves so linearly, Culibao often needs an opponent to be stationary or put themselves in a bad position. “Kuya” is rarely able to trap opponents and create a stationary target himself. One thing is for sure though, no matter what is coming back his way, Culibao will keep coming forward and keep throwing heat for 15 solid minutes.

Opponents rarely get a break against the Aussie fighter which lends itself to controversial decisions. Culibao has dropped the first round as he chases opponents against the cage only to rally later in the fight as his opponent gets tired. Most of his fights come down to round 2. If an opponent can remain technical and move around Culibao at range, “Kuya” struggles to get his game going and enters round 3 behind on the cards. But, if Culibao can cut the cage early or gets a willing partner to exchange with, watch out because Culibao will throw sledgehammers over and over, often dealing more damage.

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Baghdasaryan is relatively unproven. He has high-end striking talent with a wide arsenal of attacks that he can string together athletically and land with fight-ending power. When he’s flowing, Baghdasaryan strikes with speed and power while fluidly implementing a complete Muay Thai skillset. Baghdasaryan’s elbows, specifically, are especially devastating.

Typically, “The Gun” stands with a narrow stance, stays springy on his feet, and bounces into range following a quick jab or sudden kick. He’ll continue this in-and-out movement, preferring to be all the way out (at range) or all the way in (in the clinch) instead of exchanging in the pocket. When he’s all the way out, Baghdasaryan’s speed and kicks give him an advantage over many boxing-heavy fighters. Moreover, when he’s in the clinch, Baghdasaryan’s razor elbows are on full display. His issue, at times, is his cardio and patience.

He has prolonged bouts of inactivity, especially after round 1. It seems, that after an often violent 1st round, Baghdasaryan goes into cruise control in the 2nd to try and recover. In these moments, Baghdasaryan transitions from an offensive-minded flow state to a more defensively-minded evader whose primary concern is avoiding pressure with footwork as he catches his breath. If his cardio is under control, Baghdasaryan is a dangerous and varied striker with fight-ending power.

Josh Culibao vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan prediction | UFC 284 1

Prediction and Betting Guide

This fight should come down to round 2, so, the pick’em odds are appropriate. Baghdasaryan is notoriously a fast starter with the range striking and footwork needed to pick Culibao apart from range and land some heavy shots. However, Culibao has excellent durability and will likely push the fight into rounds 2 and 3. Baghdasaryan has a cardio issue that will likely force him into a low-volume cat-and-mouse chase in round 3 which favors the Aussie. So, it comes down to round 2. If Baghdasaryan can stay on his bike and continue to throw volume, he should take the round. But, if he gasses, Culibao gets the stationary target he needs to implement his own offense. In a fight like this, I side with the fighter in control of his fight, Baghdasaryan. Baghdasaryan can win this if he manages his gas tank. Culibao needs Baghdasaryan to mismangage it.

Pick: Melsik Baghdasaryan to win (-110)

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