Midnight Mania! ‘He Didn’t Want To Be In There’

 Luque v Buckley
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

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Joaquin Buckley scored the biggest win of his professional career over the weekend (Sat. March 30, 2024) in the co-main event of UFC Atlantic city, stopping Vicente Luque in the second round via strikes.

The fight was quite competitive to start. In the first round, Buckley found some success with his combination striking and pressure. Luque also had his moments, however, landing some heavy kicks and briefly gaining top position with a takedown. All well and good, but things got a bit odd in the second.

Buckley landed a few solid punches to start the round, and he met Luque’s double leg attempt with strong hips. The Brazilian veteran reacted by pulling guard, and when Buckley started punching, “The Silent Assassin” shelled up until the referee intervened. For a many who has gone to war with the likes of Mike Perry and Stephen Thompson without taking a step back, it was a strange sight to see (watch here).

Buckley thinks the explanation is that Luque didn’t want to be in the cage with him.

“I feel like Vicente just quit in there — point blank, period,” Buckley said on The MMA Hour (via MMAFighting). “He quit. He didn’t want to be in there in the first place. Before the fight started, he didn’t want to be in there. When you’re a fighter, you can just sense those things. It’s hard to explain. You’ve got to get in there and find out.

“I knew it the moment I saw him. The moment I saw him at weigh-ins, I knew it.”

In Luque’s defense, he’s just two fights removed from suffering a knockout loss that resulted in a brain hemorrhage. He managed to pretty safely wrestle Rafael dos Anjos in his return to action last year, but it’s understandable if the punches of a powerful hitter like Buckley shook his confidence.

The question is can Luque come back from this? Luque’s best wins have come from surging forward in the chaos, and if he’s not able to keep his confidence in bad spots anymore, he’s not likely to win many fights.

As for Buckley, he’s rising quickly up the Welterweight ranks, and he has an idea for his next opponent: Gilbert Burns. Ideally, he’d love that fight as the main event of UFC St. Louis, which is currently scheduled to be headlined by another uninspired Heavyweight contest.

“I actually love the idea of Gilbert Burns,” Buckley said. “Right now we’re 3-1 against that team. The first guy that beat me from that team was Logan Storley back in Bellator. He held me down for 15 [minutes]. After that I knocked out Impa Kasanganay, Andre Fialho, and now their boy Vicente. So now I’m 3-1 with them.”


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