One kick changed everything for U-City native Joaquin Buckley


ST. LOUIS – “One moment is all you need to separate yourself from the pack,” is what University City native Joaquin Buckley told me as we sat inside the Octagon at his home training gym Raven Ridge MMA. 

Buckley’s moment may have taken longer than he wanted, but it was well worth the weight. He stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 185 lbs. He has been fighting professionally since 2014.

Buckley has always had an interest in mixed martial arts and joined the wrestling team during his time at Marquette High School. After graduating in 2012, Buckley he to bypass college and pursue professional fighting.  

After six years of competing for Bellator MMA and Legacy Fighting Alliance, his dream of competing in the UFC finally came true. He made his UFC debut against Kevin Holland on Aug. 8, 2020, at UFC Fight Night 174.

Buckley has competed in 17 fights as a UFC fighter. Of those he has won 13 (ten by knockout and three by decision) and lost 4 (three by knockout and one by decision). 

On Oct. 10, 2020, Buckley was scheduled to fight Abu Azaitar at UFC Fight Night: Moreas v Sandhagen. Azaitar dropped pulled due to undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Impa Kasanganay. This was the fight that changed his life. 

Buckley beat Kasanganay in the second round with an epic, highlight-reel fashion spinning back kick after Kasanganay had caught hold of one foot in a precious kick attempt, knocking him out cold. The knockout earned Buckley the Performance of the Night, but that’s just the beginning. 

The knockout went viral on the internet. The UFC tweeted the knockout video and became its most-liked, most viewed, and most retweeted tweet in UFC history.

Across all social media platforms, the Buckley KO has generated over 65 million views and 83 million impressions for the UFC. The big blow also earned Joaquin “New Mansa” Buckley the 2020 Knock Out of the Year award.

That was the moment he had been waiting for. His chance for the world to really remember the name Joaquin Buckley, the UFC fighter from St. Louis. Buckley’s popularity in the sport has only grown since the infamous knockout, but he humbly directs the attention he receives to the city he is from. 

“I’m happy people are finally getting a chance to get to know me and see all my hard work pay off, but this is bigger than me,” Buckley said. 

Buckley is proud to represent St. Louis and hopes that his success will help draw more positive attention, business, and growth into the community.

He says he wants to inspire younger boys and girls to know they can be from St. Louis and still make it big time, and he aspires to provide resources for other young fighters looking to be in his position one day. 

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