Ocagon Oracles: City Kickboxing’s Carlos Ulberg

Carlos Ulberg stands in his corner of a boxing ring with his arms rested on the top rope. City Kickboxing's Carlos Ulberg will make his UFC debut at UFC 259. Photo Credit: King in the Ring

Carlos Ulberg (3-0) will make his UFC debut this Saturday at UFC 259. He enters the promotion after a win on “Dana White’s Contender Series” last summer. He knocked out an experienced Bruno Oliveira in the first round of their fight, scoring himself a UFC contract afterwards. While Ulberg has an MMA record of only three wins, he also boasts an extensive kickboxing career. Ulberg impressively is a two-time King in the Ring tournament winner.

Ulberg will represent City Kickboxing alongside Kai Kara-France and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya who will also be competing on the card.

Across from Ulberg is Fortis MMA’s Kennedy Nzechukwu. Nzechukwu earned a UFC contract from the “Contender Series” in 2018. Before that he fought and won on the show in. Nzechukwu has been in the UFC for nearly three years but has only had two fights.

Shawn Bitter

Grade: B
While Ulberg has a kickboxing background and trains with notable names in the sport, it’s still impossible to know how good he actually is. With that said, I’ve known of Ulberg for a while and have been big into his potential. Ulberg is a super athletic fighter who is very technical. He has excellent kickboxing, a solid jab, good movement, and seems to have a good gas tank. Most heavyweights with 20 to 30 fights don’t have the tools Ulbeg has. I got high hopes for “Mr. Marvelous”.

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Zac Herbison

Grade: C+
Ulberg is a great example of what can be exciting about the athlete-turned-fighter archetype. Being a former rugby player, he’s so athletic and coachable that his fourth pro MMA fight is going to be in the UFC. The primary question in these situations is generally whether or not they will develop fast enough to thrive in their UFC run. Having pro kickboxing experience doesn’t hurt, either, especially in a division that is not exactly known for its wrestling.

Ulberg is a careful striker. He appears to prioritize having good position in the cage – despite fighting from the outside, he’s rarely cornered. He seems to have picked up Adesanya’s love of using his hips to feint kicks. He feints often, and mixes up his target, throwing leg kicks and body punches regularly. He has strong cardio and hits hard. There’s a lot to build on. It’s not impossible we’re looking at a future title contender. It’s always a gamble to assume that people will improve, though, and the odds are made more severe by the fact that I have zero idea what his ground game looks like. I’m also not thrilled with his low striking volume. It’s hard to know how his run will go, but it’ll be exciting to find out.

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Kristen King

Grade: B
I am beyond excited to see another excellent prospect added to the light heavyweight division, so I already expect great things from Ulberg. His work on the kickboxing scene speaks for itself, and it has translated well thus far in his mixed martial arts career, so I suspect he will be a real problem for a lot of 205-pound fighters. If there was something to give me hesitancy about Ulberg, it would have to be the level of competition he has faced. Ulberg has obviously excelled, but against fighters that may not have been the best indicator of his overall talent.

I know he is going to be handed plenty of challenges in the UFC, so I am certain any of my lingering doubt will be dispelled as time goes on. I see Ulberg working his way to the top and becoming a contender in a few years.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
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A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion