Viral sensation Joaquin Buckley is wasting no time getting back to business.
The middleweight star, whose stunning knockout of Impa Kasanganay earlier this year is a virtual lock for Knockout of the Year, last competed at UFC 255 in November, picking up his second straight win. Now, he’ll return in just a few week’s time against Italian Alessio Di Chirico. The fight will be part of the UFC’s January 16 event in Abu Dhabi.
MMA Junkie was first to report news of the booking, which feels like a Christmas present for fans of explosive finishes.
Buckley (12-3) stumbled out of the gate in the UFC after arriving earlier this year following a stint in LFA. However, after losing his promotional debut to Kevin Holland (who is up there in the running for Fighter of the Year), Buckley bounced back against Kasanganay, landing a two-touch spinning wheel kick that will live on in highlights reels essentially until the end of time. He followed that up by knocking out Jordan Wright at UFC 255, improving to 3-1 as a whole for 2020, and 2-1 inside the octagon.
Di Chirico (12-5) has struggled to find his rhythm since joining the UFC in 2016. He’s 3-5 to date in the promotion, and has lost three straight, with all three fights going the distance. Nine of his twelve wins have come via finish.
The UFC’s January 16 Fight Night card was expected to air on ESPN+. However, a move to ABC remains a possibility, which would see the promotion return to broadcast television for the first time since 2018. The event is headlined by a featherweight bout between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar.
The following bouts have been reported for the event thus far:
Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar
Omari Akhmedov vs. Tom Breese
David Zawada vs. Ramazan Emeev
Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher
Justin Tafa vs. Carlos Felipe
Austin Lingo vs. Jacob Kilburn
Punahele Soriano vs. Duško Todorovic
Julianna Pena vs. Sara McMann
Bethe Correia vs. Wu Yanan
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Anthony Hernandez
Nik Lentz vs. Mike Grundy
Warlley Alves vs. Christian Aguilera
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Phil Hawes
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Joaquin Buckley