Alessio Di Chirico(12-5) is well aware of severity of the situation he is in heading into UFC Fight Island 7.
“I feel that I have to win. I have no choice,” he said ahead of his fight with Joaquin Buckley this Saturday.
That Fight Island middleweight showdown is do or die for the Italian. 3-5 in the promotion overall, “Manzo” has dropped his last three fights. One more loss, and he may not get another.
That’s not surprising, given UFC President Dana White announced toward the end of 2020 that the promotion would cut up to sixty athletes. But while Di Chirico feels the pressure, he also recognizes that anyone could be on the chopping block. “Every UFC fighter that also comes from a loss can be cut. So it’s a feeling that every fighter knows,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press at the UFC Fight Island 7 virtual media day this week.
There’s also an intimidating opponent standing across from him come Saturday. Joaquin Buckley, the consensus Knockout of the Year winner for 2020. Despite the imposing figure that Buckley has become, Di Chirico likes the pairing.
“I’m very happy about this [match-up]. I’m happy to get to fight during this period, I’m happy to work. And I’m here to fight the best fighters in the world,” he stated. “I don’t want to be a parasite that stays on the periphery zone of the rankings. I want to stay here. I want to demonstrate that I can stay here in every fight.”
He’s also been able to find some inspiration from fellow Italian Marvin Vettori, who became the first fighter from the nation to headline a UFC event last year — putting on a career-best performance against Jack Hermansson.
“I was very very happy for him, because he deserves it. He’s a friend of mine. He inspires us, and he [put] Italy on the map,” Di Chirico said of his countryman.
Getting back to his own fight, Di Chirico revealed that, like everyone else, he found out about the bout a month ago. “I don’t know why, but as soon as I seen the contract, the notice came out. So just a month,” he noted.
Whether that has been enough time to prepare, we’ll knock come Saturday.
Alessio Di Chirico faces Joaquin Buckley at UFC Fight Island 7 this Saturday, July 16 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The main card airs live on ABC (TSN in Canada).