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Joaquin Buckley Pumps Himself Up for Co-Main Event Slot, Ready to Show He's a Welterweight Star at the UFC

Joaquin Buckley

Black Belt Plus

Joaquin Buckley always brings the hype to fight week, but this time it's on another level. Stepping into the fighter hotel in Atlantic City for his co-main event matchup with Vicente Luque, Buckley feels like he's finally arrived at the UFC.

Being on the poster and fighting in the co-main slot? That's exactly what this St. Louis native has been dreaming of since he was a kid. And let's be honest, the dude deserves it.

Remember that knockout that's practically UFC legend status? Yeah, that was Buckley. He even dabbled in fighting middleweight contenders, but his move down to welterweight is what really put him on this path.

So far, Buckley's undefeated at welterweight with wins over André Fialho and Alex Morono. The Morono fight was particularly impressive - Buckley dominated the whole time, looking fresh as a daisy.

After that win, he kept training, with his eye on December's UFC 296. Not because he had a fight, but because there were some welterweight showdowns he wouldn't miss.

Guys like Shavkat Rahkmonov, Stephen Thompson? If anything went down with their fights, Buckley wanted to be ready to jump in.

Well, injury forced Ian Machado Garry out, and Buckley volunteered to step in against Luque on short notice. No dice on that one, but hey, he stayed prepared.

Then came his lucky break. Luque's originally scheduled opponent, Sean Brady, pulled out with an injury. This time, the UFC called Buckley, and he was pumped.

"I'm getting what I've been asking for," Buckley said. "I called out a lot of fighters, but never got a fight. Now that I do, I'm gonna show everyone why I wanted this!"

Buckley, currently unranked, knows fighting a ranked fighter like Luque is a golden opportunity. He's been waiting for a chance to prove he belongs with the welterweight elite, and knocking out the #11 ranked Luque would be a seriously epic way to do that.

"Big respect to Luque," Buckley said. "He's a beast, been around forever. But I think he's achieved a lot without quite reaching that world champion title. I know he's still hungry for it, and beating a guy like that, someone still dangerous, that's huge for me. A win over Luque would be incredible, and this is exactly the kind of fight I need to show the world I'm a star."

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