UFC middleweight contender Joaquin Buckley explains to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole how he caught Impa Kasanganay with one of the most devastating knockouts the MMA world has ever seen.
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KEVIN IOLE: Folks, I am Kevin Iole. And my guest now is one of the guys that shook up the world, not just the MMA world, because-- I'm going to tell the story-- President Donald Trump was talking about this man.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: [INAUDIBLE]
KEVIN IOLE: So I want to tell that story, Joaquin Buckley, who had a knockout heard around the world on Saturday, in Abu Dhabi against Impa Kasanganay. Joaquin, thank you for joining me. Unbelievable performance the other day.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yeah, man, just like you said, bro, the whole world was shooken up by it, you know what I mean? Even Donald Trump, you know, was saying-- spoke about it, you know what I'm saying? He had things to say about it. So I'm just, I'm just happy, man-- this is awesome.
KEVIN IOLE: Yeah, I-- I want to tell you this, because I think this is kind of funny. I'm watching the fight here, I'm in Las Vegas, and I'm watching the fight. I've got to write a story on the main event. And your knockout happened.
So immediately, I know I got to write a story about this. So I called Dana, because I want to get a quote from Dana White. And he answers the phone right away. And instead of saying, hello, or what's up, he goes, oh my God! Can you believe what just happened?
So we were, we were going back and forth screaming at each other, so excited about what you had done.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Yes sir, yes sir.
KEVIN IOLE: I want to get into that knockout in a little bit about-- I know you have a great backstory that I want people to hear, because it's remarkable. I want to tell you about the Donald Trump story, though. I interviewed Dana today. And I wasn't asking about politics or anything, but I was-- I was talking about the growth of mixed martial arts, and how, you know, Jan Blachowicz met the leader of France, and you know, Jairzinho Rozenstruik had met a leader in Suriname, and you know, a number of UFC fighters are appearing with President Trump.
And he said, you know, I want to tell you this. I talked to the president yesterday. And he said he got on the phone, and he said the first thing he said to me is, my God, did you see that knockout by Buckley? He said that was the first thing that the president said to him.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Oh, man. And it's, it's still unbelievable, man. You know what I mean? And I've got to give respect to-- you know what I'm saying, the man of the house, you know what I mean, our leader. And, and just be appreciative, know what I'm saying, for you know, being so ecstatic about it, you know what I'm saying?
And, and speaking to my boss about it, you know what I mean? Because it, that might just help me get that, uh, that extra bonus.
KEVIN IOLE: Yeah, I want you to know, I was lobbying to Dana. And I said, give all, all four bonuses to this guy. He deserves it.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Yes, sir, I hope so.
KEVIN IOLE: Let's, let's talk about that. I mean, I think the athleticism of that hasn't been, you know, talked about a lot. Because I mean, you know, there you are-- you basically have your foot in one guy's hand, and you spin around like that and throw that kick. And you said in the ring that you've practiced that. Just tell me a little bit about that. And have you ever been able to connect with one of those?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Uh, well, I never trained on it like, in sparring or on a person. It's just on a-- only on a bag, you know? And you know, I always use the momentum of a heavy bag. And you know, I will push it back and forth. And once the bag came to me, I will use my rear-leg kick, you know, like, almost like a sidekick. And I will push off of it, and try to bounce off of it, and then propel off the, you know, the heavy bag as it's coming forward, and then turn my whole body into it where my lead side kick will now be put into it.
And it generates so much force from just being propelled off the bag, and then the snap of the kick. So it's one of the most powerful moves that you can use, obviously, as y'all seen. But I never thought, you know, I would use it in, in real time, you know? So-- because I never sparred, I never, I never used it in sparring, just always on the heavy bag.
KEVIN IOLE: That-- you know, the entire flat part of your foot, too, got him. I mean, it wasn't like you got him up here. I mean, right in the middle. So you got your entire foot on his face--
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Right, right, it wasn't even the heel, it was just like, the base, like the palm of my, my foot, you know what I mean? And it just launched right into, you know what I'm saying, his jaw. And yeah, it got, it got an incredible result, because I'm taking my whole body, and I'm whipping my entire body right into his face, you know. So yeah.
KEVIN IOLE: I, I know-- as a puncher, like, you know, I know when you land a punch, you can feel that kind of down through your legs and everything. When you landed that, you know-- you saw him, and you knew he was out. But when you landed it, could you feel that? Like, did you know, OK, that's it?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Uh, no-- I mean, I knew I-- I know I landed, for sure, you know what I mean? But I didn't know what type of power I generated from, because it knocked his head back, you know what I mean? You know, it's not like a heavy bag, where it's just going to stay right there. His head, you know, it's movable, so you know, I knocked his head back. So I didn't really feel, you know, how much power I generated from the kick.
But once I, you know, landed back on my feet, you know, and I was able to turn around, I seen the damage that it had caused. And I just knew the fight was over after that.
KEVIN IOLE: I want to ask you about a story I heard about you. I, I think it's true, I don't know it's true. But you, you fight in LFA. A week later, you come to the UFC.
And you fight a really tough guy in Kevin Holland. I mean, a guy that was, you know, one of the best, you know, young fighters on the rise out there. I heard that, you know, when you were in Las Vegas, and you called Uber Eats, that you gave a $100 tip to the Uber Eats driver. Is that accurate?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Yeah, that's accurate. I'm surprised that my man even, you know, said anything about it, you know? But yeah, it's accurate, whatever. Now, I wasn't intentionally trying to give my man $100, but I want to tip him something.
And then when I pulled, you know, my money out, whatever, you know, I just thought about the whole situation where I'm in the UFC, I'm, you know, I'm fighting a big fight. And I'm just, you know, I had a blessed situation happen to me. I said, you know, why not? You know what I mean? Just for good feels for myself. So when I get in the fight, you know what I'm saying, I just have a good feeling about it, you know?
KEVIN IOLE: Good for you, doing that, doing that for somebody else, making somebody else share in your success. God bless you.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Exactly, just let it cycle around, you know what I mean? Yes, sir.
KEVIN IOLE: Now, you know-- I mean, you talked about it just before you came on to do this interview with me, you were feeding your baby. How old is your baby?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: My baby is almost two months. On the 16th, he'll be two months old.
KEVIN IOLE: So that bonus you got might help, help buy some diapers, or whatever?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Oh yeah, and I think that's about all the diapers we need.
KEVIN IOLE: That's awesome. The other thing people may not know is that you're, you're obviously a world-class fighter, one of the best fighters in the world. But you still have a full-time job. And on Monday, you're going back to work at Walgreens.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Yes sir, yes sir.
KEVIN IOLE: I, I don't think people can comprehend that. How can you do what you do at a world-class level, and then you're working at a Walgreens?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Um, I mean, for the longest time, I didn't have a job. I was just, I was just working at the gym, and then working out there, and-- you know, type things. So like, my, my work was my-- like, my job, as in training, if that makes sense. You know what I mean? So I was able to do that a lot.
But I realized I don't have to train, you know what I'm saying, too extensively every day, you know what I'm saying? Like eight hours-- because I used to train like, straight eight hours, you know what I mean? In the gym, like, nonstop, whatever. But it's just wear and tear on the body.
So you know, as long as, you know, I can train for, you know, two, three hours, I'm good. And then of course, I've got, you know, free time, so I might as well be working, getting money.
KEVIN IOLE: What do, what do you do for Walgreens?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: I'm just a shift lead, you know what I mean? So I run the night shift there. And you know, I just make sure that everybody stay happy, man. Give them some points, you know, if they get mad.
KEVIN IOLE: So if somebody comes in the store and says, I don't want to wear a mask, they call the shift leader. And the shift leader-- they're not going to mess with that shift leader.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: No, not at all. You got to wear your mask, you coming up in here.
KEVIN IOLE: So what is next for you, now that you-- you know, you made this big name for yourself. You beat, you know-- I didn't, you know, I didn't mention it, Kasanganay, I think-- you know, I actually had picked him to beat you in the fight. I really think--
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: I believe that. A lot of people did. And I'm glad you're being honest.
KEVIN IOLE: Yeah. No, and I thought-- I think he is a good, up-and-coming fighter, right? And I thought, you know-- so you, you had a really close fight with Holl, and you come back and you fight this guy. What's next for you? Have they, have they talked to you about when they want to see you again, or what level of opponent you might fight?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Yeah, they talked to me. We already got somebody in mind, you know what I mean? But I'm going to let my management team, you know, give me the, you know, A-OK to say it. But you know, we already got somebody in mind, and we've got a date. So just stay tuned, type thing.
KEVIN IOLE: And I want to talk to you about this, too, what I thought was a lot of fun, you know. And, and we saw it in your Holland fight, and we saw it in your LA fights. I mean, you were-- LFA fights. You're one of the more aggressive fighters out there.
And that bell sounded the other day, and you were after Kasanganay like-- I mean, and you hit him with two big shots, seconds into the fight.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Right.
KEVIN IOLE: Have you always been that way, or has somebody taught you that this is the best style for you?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Um, I mean, I think it just comes natural. I was, I have always been an explosive fighter. I always came to, you know, fight, pretty much, you know what I mean? I had that mentality, like, you know what I mean? It's that kill or be killed mentality, man. So you know, when I go out there, man, I'm trying to finish you as fast as possible, so I can get up out of there myself, you know what I mean, unscathed.
So-- but you know, my biggest influence-- and y'all already know, and it's every fighter's influence, but it's mines. My biggest one is Mike Tyson, bro. And he used to always go out there like, you know what I mean, and fight somebody like they stole something from him, you know what I mean? And you know, that's the type of fighting style that I like, man-- just aggressive, and just to the action, you know.
KEVIN IOLE: Yeah, Tyson is a friend of mine. I've covered many, many, many of his fights.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Awesome.
KEVIN IOLE: And I'll tell you what, he was, he was something else to watch. Where do you think your ceiling is here, you know? I mean, I-- you didn't really have a training camp for Kevin Holland, so I don't want to throw that out, because that would disrespect Kevin and what he did in that fight. But you know, I think, you know, that, you know--
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: I think, but-- hey, but be honest, though, you know what I mean? If I had a training camp, and you know, I had an actual, legit team, you know, I think that fight, you know, turns out a little different. It's only one way to find out. And I think we will, one day.
KEVIN IOLE: And that's what I, that's what I was going to get to, because you mentioned the two words, legit team. So your first fight, you had-- your coaches were-- had COVID. Your second fight in the UFC against Kasanganay, they had passport issues, they couldn't get there. So both of your fights, you didn't have any coaches!
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Right, right, right, exactly. Unfortunately, you know what I mean? You know, things didn't happen like they were supposed to, you know, by my plan. But yet again, not my plan, you know what I mean? The universe has something different for us. And everything worked out just, just fine, just fine.
KEVIN IOLE: Who, who was in your corner the other day, and you know, what was it like, you know, getting advice in the corner from somebody that you're not used to? You know, they don't know you as a fighter, whatnot.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Right, right. So Mike Gilmore, and just-- my bad, man, I forgot your last name, but Jesse, you know I got you, the next time. Papa Bear, that's what we called him, you know what I'm saying, on Instagram. But regardless, though, those two guys, man-- they was great, man. They was just nothing but just, you know, um, let's see-- intuitive about what they was talking about, you know what I mean?
So when they went in there, they had great IQ. I could tell, you know what I mean, before even, you know, we went into the fight, you know what I mean? Just breaking down Impa, you know, and just giving me some good strategies towards the fight. They did a great job, man.
And um, so you know, it was perfect, man. You know, they did a great job of helping me out, you know what I mean, in developing a game plan against Impa.
KEVIN IOLE: How, how much better do you think you're going to be with the people you're comfortable with, and the people that know you, and know your strengths, and know your weaknesses, the fact that next time you fight in the UFC, God willing, you're going to have your team in your corner?
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Well, I-- I will tell you how it is, this stat-- I never lost with them in my corner, so. So you know I mean-- so I think when they come back, you know, when they able to, you know, be in my corner and stuff like that, that things going happen exactly how they need to happen. And that's with my hand raised.
KEVIN IOLE: Awesome. Well, we are going to let you go. We know you've got a lot of people want to talk to you. And you also have a lot on your hands. Congratulations, again, I'm really happy for you. Joaquin Buckley, one of the best knockouts I have seen in more than 40 years of covering the fight game. He is the man.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Whoo!
KEVIN IOLE: Thank you so much.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: All right, man, you'd give me that? Woah. Thank you.
KEVIN IOLE: Pretty sure. Be well, brother. Thank you.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY: Absolutely. Thank you.