What’s next for Joaquin Buckley after hometown win at UFC St. Louis?

MMA: UFC Fight Night-St. Louis-Buckley vs Ruziboev
Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC St. Louis, hometown welterweight contender Joaquin Buckley (19-6) took on the dangerous Nursulton Ruziboev (34-9-2) who was moving down from middleweight. Both men were looking to continue their momentum with a big win on Saturday night.

Joaquin Buckley was desperate to get on the St. Louis card. Growing up in St. Louis, Buckley harassed Dana White constantly after his win over Vicente Luque in Atlantic City trying to get on the STL card. It didn’t matter the opponent, Buckley just wanted to be on the card.

Ultimately, the promotion gave him Nursulton Ruziboev. Ruziboev is 6’5 and was rising up the middleweight ranks. He had won ten fights in a row including his first two UFC fights by first round finish. Buckley had no reservations and took the matchup.

Early in the first round, you could tell that Buckley was struggling a bit with the range and length of Ruziboev. Because of that, he switched things up and used his wrestling. Buckley used his explosiveness and strength to take Ruziboev down. The second round featured the same game plan with the crowd erupting after his takedowns.

In the third round, Buckley rocked Ruziboev badly on the feet. He nearly finished the fight several times in the third round but ultimately the fight went to the scorecards. In the end, it was a lopsided win for Buckley at UFC St. Louis and the crowd went nuts.

What’s next after UFC St. Louis?

After his win, Buckley called out the biggest star in the sport in Conor McGregor. It was his moment and he took a shot, however, he knew it wasn’t the most realistic callout. I asked him at the post-fight press conference if he had a more realistic opponent in mind after UFC St. Louis and Buckley mentioned former title challenger Gilbert Burns.

This is such a perfect next step for Buckley and Burns has already said he’s down for the matchup. Burns is very close friends with Vicente Luque so you know he’d like to get that one back for his teammate. Another option I’m keeping my eyes on is Ian Garry. Garry really wants to fight in the co-main event of UFC 303.

With Colby Covington appearing to not be an option, Garry has said he’s open to contenders ranked below him. He’s said he would fight Joaquin Buckley and if Buckley is interested in fighting again at the end of June, I wouldn’t rule that one out.

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