One of the UFC‘s most hyped prospects entering 2021 was Joaquin Buckley (12-4). Buckley had perhaps the viral knockout of the decade back in 2020 and he followed that up with another brutal knockout win back at UFC 255.
Dana White has said in multiple interviews that he was one of the fighters to watch in 2021. The promotion decided to throw Buckley on the main card for their debut on ABC. They gave Buckley, Alessio Di Chirico (13-5), as an opponent at UFC Fight Island 7.
Di Chirico is a tough fighter, however, he had lost three straight entering Saturday. To me, this had a UFC showcase fight written all over it. In the past, Di Chirico had struggled against powerful punchers who pushed the pace.
Well, that’s exactly who Joaquin Buckley is. That said, I figured Buckley would storm through Di Chirico on Saturday as did most of the MMA community. Boy, was everyone wrong about that one.
Di Chirico looked incredibly sharp striking from the outside. Buckley looked frustrated and he wasn’t able to get in on Di Chirico during the exchanges. Di Chirico was sharp and was throwing shots down the middle that continuously popped Buckley.
Then out of no where, Di Chirico landed a beautiful headkick that sent Buckley crashing down. A few follow up shots later the referee called a stop to the fight and Alessio Di Chirico stopped the UFC hype train of Joaquin Buckley.
What’s next after UFC Fight Island 7?
Joaquin Buckley is still a very exciting prospect for the UFC, but let’s be honest, this was a big setback. He was given this opportunity against a guy who had lost three straight fights. Buckley was supposed to deliver and further push his stock.
However, the exact opposite happen. He lost in devastating fashion when he was a big favorite. Now, the UFC is going to have to figure out a good opponent to assist Buckley in regaining some of the steam that he had.
I thought for sure that the next fight would come against James Krause (28-8). Those two are from the same area in the US and they have major beef. However, with this loss, I’m not sure that Krause will be as interested as he was before.
The UFC needs to look for an opponent that will stand in trade with Buckley for his next fight. Win or lose, the fight will need to be entertaining. I like Jamie Pickett (11-5) as a potential option for Buckley’s next matchup.