Victory inside the Octagon has again eluded Joshua Culibao, as he fought Canadian standout Charles Jourdain to a rarely-seen split draw in the undercard of UFC Fight Island 4 in Abu Dhabi, Sunday morning (Manila time).
It was a controversial result, since the scorecards had it 30-27 for Jourdain, 29-28 for Culibao, and a 28-28 stalemate.
Cageside official Michael Bell awarded Jourdain a 10-8 round after dominating the third, but Ahmed Korchi received widespread backlash on social media after scoring all three rounds in favor of the Canadian.
The anticlimactic result relegated Culibao’s professional record to 8-1-1.
Culibao was looking to redeem himself after falling short in his promotional debut against Jalin Turner in a lightweight bout this past February. The Filipino-Australian prospect — who entered the bout as a plus-325 underdog — was not overawed by the occasion, putting in two solid rounds before Jourdain posed problems in the third stanza.
Returning to his original weight class with a full training camp, Culibao brimmed with confidence in the first round as he staved off the hyperactive salvo of his foe in the opening moments. In response, he stunned and dropped Jourdain with a huge right hand that opened the floodgates of blood from his opponent’s nose.
Though Culibao somehow had the momentum on his side entering the second period, his Canadian counterpart kept things competitive to disrupt the flow of the Sydney-based Filipino by drilling heavy low kicks.
However, Culibao’s punching combinations and takedown attempts managed to find home that offset the offensive advances of Jourdain.
As both men went back-and-forth, the complexion of the contest started to change as the match was marred by fouls both real and imagined. There was a borderline low blow, as well as an odd sequence in which referee Jason Herzog had to briefly pause the action after an apparent eye poke, only to have Culibao admit that he had done it to himself.
In the third and final canto, Jourdain committed to his power shots and managed to stagger Culibao. But the latter was able to hang in there and regain enough composure to threaten with counterpunches, compelling the Canadian to back off.
In a desperate effort, Culibao shot for a takedown. Easily reading his adversary’s next move, Jourdain sprawled out of it and almost latched on a guillotine choke.
After failing to secure leverage on the mat, Jourdain opted to situate the exchanges on the feet. He landed a heavy kick to Culibao’s backside. The Fil-Aussie reacted that he’d been hit low, but the referee ordered them to continue.
With a minute left in the fight, Jourdain had Culibao in deep trouble, cranking his arm in all kinds of directions. But Culibao found a loophole to make an escape and finished the clash on his feet.
Meanwhile, Jourdain is now 10-3-1.